Monday, March 24, 2008

Book Review: Red Glass by Laura Resau

I wrote most of this review a long time ago, directly after finishing the book, but it's been languishing in my drafts file for a couple of months now.

Book: Red Glass
Author: Laura Resau
Published: 2007
Cybils Finalist

Sixteen-year-old Sophie has always worried. What if her mom doesn't pick her up from school and she gets kidnapped? What if the radon detector runs out of batteries? What if there's a car crash and they all die?

Now she's really got the chance to worry, because she, her great-aunt, her great-aunt's boyfriend, and his teenaged son are all taking Sophie's foster brother Pablito to Mexico to see the family he left behind. Food poisoning! Germs! Corrupt police! And most importantly, what if the little boy she's come to love decides to stay in Mexico instead of returning to the States?

To Sophie's astonishment, few of her worries come to pass, and those that do can be handled. In the bosom of Pablito's family, she finds herself capable of more than she ever imagined, even if everyone calls her Sophie la Delicada--the Delicate. When she receives bad news, she has to decide whether Sophie la Delicada can transform herself into Sophie la Fuerte--the Strong. Because she's the only one who can.

The tone of this book veered between the mystical and the hard-edged, and they meshed surprisingly well. Resau shows poverty, violence, and fear on virtually the same pages as warm family scenes and emerging love.

For my money, however, the truly neat thing about this book was that everyone in it had some kind of story in their background. Dika isn't just the crazy aunt: she survived a Bosnian refugee camp. Angel isn't just the cute boyfriend--he's going to Guatemala to find out if his missing mother is still alive. Yet it's not just a collection of tragedies. Each of these stories is a testament of survival, and it's these that Sophie draws on for her strength.

While the story can be slow-moving in parts, the atmosphere and lyrical storytelling will appeal to patient teens who look for the feel of a book rather than an action-packed storyline.

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