Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Becoming Naomi León

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Munoz Ryan, 2004

This story is so fine. Naomi and her brother Owen are happy children being raised by their grandmother. Naomi loves carving animals out of soap. Her brother Owen is a brain.

Like all children she is curious about her parents who are not part of her life. One day the children's mother, "Call me Skyla," appears and lavishes attention on Naomi. Skyla barely hides her revulsion over Owen's physical problems resulting from birth defects and does not appreciate his keen sharp mind.

Gram's misgivings are confirmed when Skyla announces she wants to take Naomi to live with her and her boyfriend in Las Vegas. Naomi realizes that she is only wanted for support money and to be a babysitter for the boyfriend's daughter. Her hopes for a happy ending with a loving mother are dashed. To find help for the upcoming custody battle, Gram takes the children to Mexico in hopes of finding the children's father.

This story line seems tragic but the the characters are so tenderly and finely drawn that we cheer their strength and courage. Naomi comes to know herself and finds her gift as a carver at the Christmas festival in Oaxaca. The reader cares deeply about this family and is thankful to Pam Munoz Ryan who created them. If you enjoyed "Esperanza Rising," you will love "Becoming Naomi León."

Pam Munoz Ryan's website

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