Salsa Magic

Levine Querido. Aug. 2023. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646142606.
Gr 4-8–Maya Montenegro Calderon lives in Brooklyn with her large Puerto Rican family. At 13, she spends all her time at school, playing soccer, or helping out at the family restaurant, Cafe Taza. Recently, Maya has been plagued by curious dreams and questions that her family refuses to answer until she is older. Then her mysterious Titi Yaya arrives on the Cafe Taza doorstep, and Maya’s world is rocked and the strangeness in her life becomes even more frequent. In this novel steeped in family lore and West African Yoruba beliefs, Maya navigates old ideas and thirsts for new knowledge as she discovers how she fits into her vibrant family and the world beyond. It’s told through Maya’s first-person narrative; her stream of consciousness is endearing and relatable, and peppered with Spanish. Readers are transported to the streets of Brooklyn and treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of life in the restaurant. Characters are as diverse as the streets of New York; main family members are Puerto Rican, Afro Caribbean, and Mexican.
VERDICT A must-buy for public and school libraries. Hand to readers who love magical realism and coming-of-age stories.

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