"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Call Me María

Call Me María
Author: Judith Ortiz Cofer
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-10: 0439385784
ISBN-13: 978-0439385787

Call Me María
is the story of a girl caught between two worlds, the bright beaches of Puerto Rico where she was born and raised and the gritty streets of el barrio in New York where she lives with her father. The story is told in letters, poems and short spare chapters that convey much. The poetry is evocative and compelling. The language is lush. María’s the story of her life is fascinating. You can see the beaches in Puerto Rico, smell the ocean, feel the sun on your face, feel the cold of the New York and the shock to the system. It’s pretty great when writing can make you feel that you’re there, when it’s so real you can almost feel the wind on your skin.

“…I will watch the world go by until
I am ready to surface,
una flor in la primavera.
I know that spring will come someday even to this barrio.
When it does
I will break through the concerete and reach for the sun
Like the first flower of spring.”

Beautiful, que no?

María’s new life in the barrio is filled with meeting new friends, discovering the poetry in herself, overcoming her heavy accent, learning to live with her parents separation. There’s a lot here in this little book. Every page is a pleasure if you love poetry like I do. If you’re not a big fan, well read it anyway and the book will win you over. The different chapters, poems and letters give a lyrical view of everything and everyone involved in the story in a way that is brief but intense. I loved the poem of the Papi Chulo – that was just amazing – I smiled all the way through it.

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