With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

Atheneum. Feb. 2020. 160p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534424937.
Gr 7 Up–In the capable hands of Engle, this novel in verse about Rubén Darío is utterly moving. Born in the late 1860s, Darío created a literary movement known as Modernismo while rambunctiously coming of age. Engle shares a trove of discoveries about a boy from Nicaragua with a fractured family who became the celebrated “Poet Boy” traveling the world. He overcame hardship and pushed the boundaries of artistry, with his most renowned poem about a fairytale scribbled to a young fan. Engle’s author’s note suggests the majority of the book is biographically accurate based on Darío’s own comprehensive writing. With a bombshell discovery about both of his parents, he turned to poetry as a mouthpiece for his frustration. Similarly, Darío’s views on the world and political turmoil were funneled through his powerful writing. Engle takes this beauty and creates a captivating tribute in her own style, with emotional poem titles and a controlled unraveling of the details of a life lived to the limit. This type of storytelling celebrates the creative talent of Latinx people that has been hidden by history. Engle’s form and research is something to be heralded, as is Darío’s life and work.
VERDICT A top purchase for public and school libraries alike; a stellar example of verse and historical fiction.

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