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HMH. Jul. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358124351.
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Gr 8 Up–The better part of Cuban American teenager Mariana (Mari) Ruiz’s life has been spent in smiling service to her father Senator Anthony Ruiz’s political aspirations. Mari’s unwavering support of her father, however, is tested by intense scrutiny during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Increasing unease over her role comes to a head when Mari bolts prior to an important television interview. Fallout from her disappearing act strains Mari’s relationship with her parents and worsens her status at school. While seeking social refuge with student activist Jackie Velez, Mari discovers that her father does not hold the values that she thought he did. Caught between supporting her family and standing up for what is right, Mari must choose a side that she believes in. Sylvester delivers a captivating coming-of-age narrative about the power of truth and finding your voice. Initially complacent and naive, Mari’s growth reads genuine as she begins to push back against her father’s campaign demands and question her privilege. The struggle between familial expectations and personal identity is something that will resonate with many readers. Diverse, complex secondary characters strengthen the narrative by presenting a well-rounded representation of South Florida. Sylvester’s ultimate message is simple: be an agent of change by standing up for others and calling out injustice.
VERDICT This powerful novel will provoke much discussion on topics like the political machine, youth activism, and environmental justice. Highly recommended for all libraries.

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