MCCALL, Guadalupe Garcia. Summer of the Mariposas. 354p. Lee & Low/Tu. 2012. RTE $17.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-900-8.
Gr 7-9–While swimming in the Rio Grande, the five Garza sisters find a dead man, and, against the better judgment of Odilia, the eldest, decide to return his body to his family in El Sacrificio, Mexico. Their decision is partly altruistic and partly personal, for their paternal grandmother, whom they have rarely seen, lives nearby. Thus begins their journey, guided by supernatural forces, both good and evil, and the ever-present mariposas (butterflies) that guide their way. Succumbing to the false promises of the sorceress Cecelia, the shape-shifting donkey (nagual), and the vampiric chupacabras, they finally reach their destination. Although the man’s family does not welcome his corpse, the girls’ main purpose is fulfilled, and they reestablish their relationship with their abuela, who helps them return home, wise enough to spurn their rogue-father’s false promises and recognize their mother’s true love for them. Written in the style of magic realism, this is an enchanting look at Mexican mysticism, coupled with the realistic celebration of the true meaning of family. The sisters’ relationships are believably drawn, and the juxtaposition of modern realities and ancient Aztec mythology elucidates the importance of the spiritual side of life in Latin cultures. The plot is well paced, with the illicit nature of the girls’ entry into Mexico adding drama to their adventure. While some readers may find the interweaving of the magical elements somewhat unsettling at first, they are sure to be intrigued by both the unusual qualities of the mythical characters and the sense of adventure that lies behind every twist and turn of the girls’ revelatory journey. As with McCall’s Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low, 2011), this is a peek into Mexican American culture, but its ties to the supernatural add an interesting dimension.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL