Penguin/Kokila. Aug. 2022. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593325179.
Gr 5 Up–This fresh realistic fiction novel is heartwarming, adventurous, and strong. Adela Ramírez is 12 and living in New Mexico. Growing up with a single mom never bothered her, until her stepfather Alex asks to adopt her. Now she has an overwhelming decision. She loves Alex and loves the life they have created with her mother and soon-to-arrive baby brother, but Adela has strong feelings about her father having to give up his parental rights in order for Alex to adopt her. Alex sets out on her own to find out who her father is, and why he left without a trace. Adela’s detective skills serve her well, but what will she do now that her father is found and back in the picture? Will they be able to have the father-daughter relationship that she has dreamed of? Will she fit into his celebrity luchador wrestling family, the Bravos? Middle grade readers will find resonance in the realistic flow of this novel. Pérez writes the struggle of Adela and her family in an authentic way throughout. The ups and downs mixed with the mystery of why Adela’s mother kept so much of her life with her father a secret will have readers wanting more. Fans of luchador wrestlers and wrestling will appreciate the sports themes woven all around the family story. Hand this to fans of Pérez’s Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers.
VERDICT A novel that wrestles with the complex emotions of family and beginnings; a must-have for any library collection serving tweens.

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