My first entry for the Latinos in Kidlit Challenge is about Meg Medina’s fabulous The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. Meg Medina’s name will be familiar to many, as at the ALA awards her YA novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, won the Pura Belpré award. I’ve had YDWTKYA on my to-read list for a long time, but hold lines at the library were long. So instead, I decided to check out Medina’s debut YA novel.
And I’m really glad I did.
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is the story of Sonia Ocampo (GREAT NAME), something of a “miracle worker” in her tiny mountain village of Tres Montes, due to her birth coinciding with the halt of a particularly fierce storm. After a villager asks Sonia to pray for her son, who turns up dead, Sonia realizes that she is no miracle worker, and longs to leave behind the burden of holding the town’s hopes, dreams, and problems. She journeys to the capital, a bustling city where rich families are in constant need of labor, with three other women to be a maid.
This book was simply a joy to read. From the prologue, I was hooked into Sonia’s world, the rich language and the wonderful storytelling. Medina’s story reminded me of many magical realism books I’ve read – she encapsulates the whimsy of the ordinary so very well. In her author biography, Medina said that she was inspired by “old Latino tales – romantic and magical.” That’s exactly the impression I got from the story.
The only thing I was disappointed about was the disappearance of Sonia’s co-workers from the capital after she and Pancho leave to find her brother. I was especially interested to hear from Dalia, since I have a soft spot for hard-edged girls. And I wanted to know that Dalia would be okay after the events at the end of the book. (SO SAD. UGH)
I applaud Medina, though, for weaving such a brutal story and giving it a bittersweet ending. Also, the romance was so well-done. Romance is hard to do well, because you want a kind of slow build, and you want the sense of the characters really yearning for each other. I was beyond invested in Sonia and Pancho’s romance. I would say they’re now one of my favorite YA couples!
Now, here’s hoping I’ll get my hands on Yaqui Delgado, because I have the sneaking suspicion that Meg Medina is going to be one of my favorite authors. If you’re a fan of Jaclyn Moriarty like I am, Medina is an author I think you’ll love as well.
Random things I liked in The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind:
- The names! And not just of people, but of towns, of places, of objects. The names made the world feel especially thought-out and real.
- The omniscient narration. It was usually more of a “one chapter in this character’s POV, one chapter in this character’s POV,” but would occasionally switch POV in a single chapter. I think Medina used it really well, and the fact that the prologue was omniscient prepared me for it to show up again.
- Sonia’s family. Actually, all of the characters in this novel, good or bad, felt real and whole and complete.