Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
Summary: Grade 6-9–In spite of her family's openness, Milly Kaufman has never wanted to talk about her adoption. However, during ninth grade, Pablo Bolívar, a refugee from an unnamed Central American country, joins her class and immediately identifies her as someone who might have come from his family's hometown. Then, her grandmother attempts to make a will that differentiates between her and her siblings. While her mother and father's angry reaction makes the woman back down, their increasingly close relationship with Pablo's family makes it impossible for Milly to stop thinking about the parents who gave her up and the war-torn nation she came from. When that country's dictator is deposed in a democratic election, the Bolívars go home to visit and invite Milly along. There she discovers a world quite different from her Vermont home, an extended family, a boyfriend in Pablo, and several possible sets of birth parents. She realizes, too, how much she loves her own family, and they join her for a grand reunion. The strength of this book lies in its description of adoption issues–Milly's feelings of abandonment and difference and her sister's fear that Milly's increased identification as Latina will destroy their close relationship. However, the plot is contrived to help Milly find her identity, and the characters never really come alive. The home country has been stripped of any identifying characteristics that might make the setting interesting. Still, readers interested in this subject will be pleased with the satisfying resolution.–Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Themes: Adoption, Family, Identity, Heritage, Abandonment, Belonging, Hybrid Identities
Classroom Implications: Becoming Naomi Leon iimmediately comes to mind when the character in this book struggles with a piece of her identity that lingers in her native country. Alvarez carefully explores relationships in this book--relationships between characters, countries and identities.