An Appetite for ­Miracles

Little, Brown. Apr. 2023. 448p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316461733.
Gr 8 Up–Sixteen-year-old Danna is trying desperately to cope with her grandpa’s advancing dementia. Using her deceased grandmother Aurora’s recipes and detailed reviews Grandpa wrote about foods special to him, she hopes to evoke his memories. While Danna’s father supports this, her mother, Raquel, is highly critical of Danna’s body and what goes in it. Meanwhile, Raúl’s mother has just been released after two years in prison, pressuring him about his schoolwork without awareness of the emotional toll her absence has created for her son. He leans into playing his guitar as a source of comfort. Both teens just long to be enough to make their mothers proud. They meet when Raúl plays music for Danna’s grandpa as part of music therapy treatment, and instantly connect as teens facing family traumas. This verse novel is told in alternating perspectives of the two teens, with their Mexican American culture being woven into the poetry through delectable food descriptions and music. While these senses are used in attempt to capture the past and ignite more lucid moments with Grandpa, readers also gain insight into Danna and Raúl’s grief and the tenderness between them. While they are both facing the loss of an important family member, they search for hope and forgiveness as ways to reclaim their stories both past and present. Themes include dementia, incarcerated parent, body shaming, physical violence, references to sexual assault, and death of grandparent.
VERDICT A captivating and emotional coming-of-age tale that harmonizes magnificently in verse.

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