Shine On, Luz Véliz!

Chronicle. May 2022. 332p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781797209678.
Gr 3-6–A great novel about the struggles of friendship and family, and that what makes a person who they are is more than what other people think of them. Luz Véliz has been a star her entire life on the soccer field. She has excelled at the sport, and it earned her parents’ praise and the admiration of her classmates. When an injury keeps her from playing soccer, maybe for the rest of her potential career, Luz needs to figure out who she is off the field. Her dad is distant, and a life-altering revelation rocks her Guatemalan family when a big secret is revealed. How much change can one sixth grader take? As Luz feels her world falling apart, she discovers robotics class, which helps her thrive in a way she’s never known before. The class introduces Luz to the world of coding and computers. It might even be the solution to her problems, as well as neighbor Mr. Mac, an elderly engineer who has always been there with a helping hand and a mentoring spirit. Luz learns that she can be great on the field but has always had more to offer than only her athletic ability. This novel touches on many timely topics such as immigration and refugees, and how families can look different on the outside than they do on the inside. Readers will be able to connect with Luz’s struggle of fitting in and making new friends.
VERDICT A must-have for middle school collections; fans of Jessica Kim’s Stand Up, Yumi Chung and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk will love this coming-of-age novel.

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