Cover Image: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

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Member Reviews

I adore the books from the Rick Riordan Presents line and this is no exception.  Paola Santiago is a well developed character that brings to life some of the Mexican folklore that isn’t seen as much in mainstream media.  She’s a smart, scientifically geared teenager who doesn’t believe in all of the scary stories her mother told her growing up.  That is until one of her best friends is abducted and Paola goes out to find her.  The storyline flows well and keeps you wanting to continue reading just one more chapter.  I look forward to seeing where Paola, Dante, and Emma go to next.

Thank you to Netgalley and Rick Riordan Presents for allowing me to read this wonderfully told tale. 
#Netgalley. #RickRiordanPresents #PaolaSantiagoandtheRiverofTears
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Honestly, I did not finish reading this book. While I love middle grade novels and was so excited to read one hitting on such an important topic to the Latine community, as well as retelling a piece of our folklore, this fell flat for me. However, I will say that I believe it’s just a writing style preference for me. I’ve read other works by this author, which include great and meaningful themes to the community, and I’ve still not enjoyed them. While this book was a bit too wordy and the characters read much older than they actually were, I would still recommend it to folks who are interested in a Latine-based middle grade novel! It simply just wasn’t for me.
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5/5 ⭐️ to Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Thank you very much to Disney Books and NetGalley for early access to the ebook!

As with most of the Rick Riordan presents imprint, this was another standout middle grade read that celebrates Mexican culture and folklore. Specifically, this book is based around the legend of La Llorona and her river of tears. When a couple kids have disappeared from her town, Paola Santiago works with her friends to solve the mystery and hopefully bring them back. I loved the writing and pacing of this book, but most of all the characters and action! I was definitely pulled in and could hardly put it down! The magic system was pretty cool, too, as it transported Paola to different other worldly places where there were magical monsters she had to fight. Also, there is a group of “lost children” that Paola meets which adds a great found-family aspect. Again,the action scenes were so well written, especially consider the various settings this book takes place, I felt like I was there and I could visualize the battles! The end-game scene was especially excellent and nerve-wracking but sooo satisfying! Finally, I just wanted to say a few quick notes about Paola as a character...I think she is such a relatable character for middle grade readers, and I thought her growth as a character made her dynamic and more fully fleshed out. She grows in appreciation for her mom, her culture, as well as realizing that impressions of people can evolve. That is, a persons experiences and story can explain their actions and not simply to discount “bad” people.

Read this book! Pass it on to a young reader you know! You won’t regret it!
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This was such an adventurous, unique and well written middle grade book! I found it to be so much darker (in a good way) than I had expected. There was a lot of action and there were constantly new things to see and learn about. I really enjoy learning about latinex folklore and this incorporates some different folklore that I didn’t know about. I can only imagine how excited the latinex community must be to see their folklore represented.
At the beginning of the book Pao really irritated me. I found her to be selfish, very easily jealous and it got on my nerves. That being said, it was refreshing to see a flawed character that wasn’t perfect in every way. I think it’s important to see those types of characters in books and especially in middle grade literature! I was pleased that the issues I had with Pao were addressed by the end of the book and Pao grew a lot by that point. 
Wonderful children’s book!!
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Another powerful addition to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I am grateful for such a wide variety of representations coming out in a predictable Percy Jackson type of structure for late elementary students to be able to access and enjoy. Especially in schools with primarily Latinx populations!
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Prepare to be immediately sucked under! Mejia does an incredible job of introducing readers to the fascinating world of Hispanic Folklore. 
Paola and her friends face not only La Llorona, but also crash through barriers of class, and culture in subtle, yet authentic ways. Paola is relatable, endearing, strong and just enough sassy for her to stand out as a great protagonist. I have no doubt that she will be a favorite among my middlers!
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This book was absolutely amazing! Paola Santiago is a scientist and doesn’t believe in ghosts or monsters, but when her best friend disappears, she learns that might just not be true. The friendship between the the friends was perfect! I loved getting to read about the mythology in this book. With the stories of La Llorona, it’s perfectly spooky for Halloween time! I can’t wait to see what Tehlor Kay Mejia writes next!


Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is rich with Mexican lore twisted with fantasy. Paola doesn't like her mom's superstitious beliefs surrounding Mexican legends but winds up be thankful she had knowledge of them as she finds herself needing this knowledge to survive.  Family relations, friendship and fantasy is what this book is all about.  I loved that the reader has to continue reading to piece everything together and at the same time they learn quite a bit about Mexican legends, especially La Llorona.  This will definitely be an addition to our school library!
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Once again, kudos to Rick Riordan Presents for putting out a book that middle grade kids will love! Many of my students here in southeast Texas will devour this one.
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Combine the legend of La Llorona with a modern female character who takes on a seemingly impossible quest to find her missing friend, and you've got this book. Paola grew up hearing the stories from her mother. As a scientist, Paola is very skeptical. She's believes there's a logical explanation for phenomena. When her best friend goes missing, Paola is determined to use her expertise as a scientist to work out what happened to her friend.

Fans of Rick Riordan will find some common themes in this story.
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I've enjoyed everything from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint and this was no exception. I was excited for this #ownvoices look into Latinx folklore and I look forward to the next book in the series!
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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is the story of a scientifically minded 12 year old girl named Paola. Paola has two best friends that she likes to hang out with. When one of her friends go missing she goes on a journey to save her. While on this journey she has to face the fact that science isn't the only important thing in life. 
This book is very well written and will put you in the mind of a young Latinx girl who struggles with her cultural identity. Great job Tehlor!
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I wanted to like this book so much more than I actually did. And I've had a difficult time pinpointing exactly what it was that kept me from sinking into the story. In the end, I think it's a combination of not enough time developing characters, resulting in somewhat flat cliches that I don't care about as much as I should if I'm going to be willing to follow them through some story choices that feel disjointed and lacking. At times I felt like I was being swept along by the river but not in a satisfyingly adventurous way; more like the confusing, hard-to-get-your-bearings or put your feet under you in a solid connection kind of way.
Because of the beautifully diverse context of the River of Tears, I'm hopeful that Mejia's future novels will benefit from time and feedback to provide a truly immersive and satisfying experience for the reader!
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This book is another wonderful addition to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. Paola Santiago is a scientist-in-training, skeptical of her mother’s superstitious stories of La Llorona and other ghosts that haunt the Gila River. When her best friend Emma disappears and Paola has strange dreams of a spirit taking her, she and her other best friend Dante set out to find their friend. Before long, Paola is lured into the netherworld of lost kids (presumed drowned) fighting the creatures from the Rift, a portal to the Underworld. Paola has to set aside her skepticism and call upon all her inner strength to go into the Underworld to save her friends. The story has it all.. adventure, spooky ghosts, an adorable demon puppy, a thrilling finale, and an amazing, heart-felt friendship story.
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Great beginning with likeable characters and strong friend dynamics. Love the inclusion of the La Llorona legend. Another stellar addition to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.
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I guess I should start out by saying that I have always been a pretty big fan of mythology of all kinds, so my opinion on this one might be a bit biased, but I loved this one. It's a fun new take on the legend of La Llorona, a legend which has always intrigued me. Super fun middle-grade read that I wish I could experience for the first time again. I hear that it's a series, and I really look forward to getting to read the next one.
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Any book from Rick Riordan Presents probably needs no introduction or book-talking to make it appealing to readers. Here are my thoughts anyway. Paola's story deals with Mexican and Southwestern folklore such as chupacabras and the legend of La Llorona (the Crying Woman). But it also deals with racial prejudice, differences between economic classes, immigration services, and the difficulty of growing up.

Paola relies on science because she dislikes and distrusts her  mother's Tarot cards, incense, candles, and other "superstitious garbage that didn't work." Focusing on hard facts and researching scientific phenomena help Pao to feel in control and as if she is standing on her own, separate from her mother's beliefs. But when her friend Emma disappears and Pao's off dreams seem to give her clues to what happened, she might have to be more open-minded about spiritual things.

With some help from her friend Dante (despite their recently weird boy/girl awareness messing up their comfrotable friendship), Pao decides she will have to rescue Emma. After all, the police are notorious for not taking Latinx kids seriously, so they are on their own. Well, except there may be other forces trying to put an end to the creepy happenings along the Gila River. Can Pao and Dante trust these strangers with their friend's safety?

The story perfectly captures the way teens (and even preteens) try to distance themselves from their parents by embracing different values. With Pao it is science versus spiritualism, but it can take many forms. It also shows the awkwardness that can slip into boy-girl friendships as the friends realize they may also have romantic feelings. And there is the pain and resentment of friends that are growing up and beginning to find interests and new friends outside that tight bond that has always been there. 

Mejia has perfectly captured that rocky area of middle school when kids are stuck between the childhood years and the teen years, still trying to hang onto what is comfortable but also wanting to strike out on their own. Trying to deal with all of that would be hard enough, but then there are the recent kidnappings in the area, Emma's disappearance, La Llorona and the other supernatural creatures, money problems, ICE raids on their neighbors, and it seems too much even for someone of Pao's determination.

Those who are new to the imprint will want to try out the other authors in Rick Riordan Presents. Those who are already fans will welcome this new addition and eagerly await the next book in the series.
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Tehlor Kay’s writing didn’t seem very conducive to middle graders. There were so many words and ideas that I think would go over a middle grader’s head (she used the word “magnanimous” in the beginning of the book, which is one I barely use as a grown woman). And the times when the author was clearly trying to write to that age group felt a bit forced and corny. For example, the way she was describing Paola’s budding crush feelings was really stiff… it seemed like she didn’t quite know how to describe the butterflies for a 12-year-old, and so she just called those feelings silly or annoying.

I was confused about the mythology itself. I still don’t quite understand how all of the kids at camp got to be there, and how Paola and Dante went from their world to the mythological one in a cactus field, and so many other things. I’m hoping that this world and underworld will make more sense in forthcoming books in the series. Because at this point I’m just confused. To me, the wrong parts were overexplained, and other aspects I had questions on were not explained enough.

Paola was an excellent main character. An incredibly science-driven and mature girl who isn’t about nonsense and knows what the dangers and prejudices she will have to face because she is Latina.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, and to see where the author takes Paola next. Paola and her story have a lot of potential.
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This book deeply hit home to me.
I loved that I was able to discuss this book with my mother because we have a HUGE Mexican american family.  I loved the out of this world yet so close to home adventure that Pao goes on with her best friend Dante to find and save their friend Emma ( my name is Emily by the way and I go by Emma....was a very scary story for me)

My mother knew of the stories of La Llorona and the Gila River. As a lite girl she was told of the Cuco. 
Knowing all this made the story more relatable and enjoyable. The funny little add ins of how kids get hit with chanclas...I LOVED IT!
I'm so excited and can't wait for the next book and hope to get a chance to review it.
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4/5
Thank you to NetGalley and Rick Riordan Presents for sending me a free early copy to review! 
I love the intros Rick Riordan writes for the books under his imprint, they're so wholesome and lovely and they just get me so excited to read the book.  This one was spooky which I'm not normally a fan of because I'm a scaredy-cat but this one was ok and definitely appropriate for middle grade readers.  There was a little bit of confusion for me throughout the book about what the goal was but as it went on I had a better understanding though it wasn't a clear laid out plan like most quest based books.  I liked the idea of a possible crush between long time friends because I feel like that's a really relatable thing for readers especially in this age group and trying to navigate that is really difficult and I haven't really seen it done like this before.  Overall it was a really fun read with just the right amount of spookiness, especially for the age group.  The ending was really well done, it wrapped things up while also leaving some unanswered questions to build on in the future and I'm excited to see where the sequel goes. I will definitely be picking up future installments and keeping an eye out for other books by the author.  This is a really great book about friendship, and forgiveness and I'm really curious to see the future of the potential crushes between the main characters and how they will navigate that.
TW/CW kidnapping, violence, death, murder, injury/bodily harm
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