Cover Image: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

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Member Reviews

As a fan of the Rick Riordan Presents series, I was a bit disappointed with this book.  The author characterized Pao as a scientist, but she didn't really act like one.  I also found the treatment of Marissa, the lost girl in the desert, problematic.  When she is first mentioned, she is just the lost girl.  When she pops up later, suddenly she has a whole back story with Pao.  It felt like the author was just throwing things in as convenient rather than crafting a well-plotted story.

That said, the book has a lot of great action sections that I think kids will enjoy.
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Anytime I see a book that is coming out from the Rick Riordan Presents, I immediately add it to my TBR. And anytime I see a book from that publisher, along with being an author I’ve already loved and adored, I know that I am going to like it! And though this one had it’s faults, I still really liked it and can’t wait to read the next one!


Paola is all about science. She’s completely different from her mom who embarrasses her with all her superstitions. But when her friend goes missing after another girl has already been gone a year, her and her friend Dante do their best to try to save Emma. Along the way they run into so many things she thought were made up…..


Ok so I liked this because I like Mejia’s writing. I loved her world-building and writing style. But for some reason I wasn’t as into it as with her other books? Maybe because this was a MG? Whatever it is I just didn’t fall for it like her others.


After writing it out there, I’m thinking it was the main character. Paola was just really mean. I’m thinking it’s going to be a reason she’s like that that hasn’t come up yet, but I just couldn’t take her throughout the book. She was mean and rude and I didn’t care for it.


As for the plot, I did think it was kind of slow. She didn’t run in to that many myths or ghosts, so it was basically just her going around being mean to every one? But the myths and hints of their culture (like the magical chancla? BRILLIANT) are definitely what made the rest of the book for me.


This had it’s flaws, but it was also really good. I can’t wait to read more Paola, as a new and improved character. Rick Riordan’s imprint is definitely a favorite and will ALWAYS be my first pick for all middle grades!
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*Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Another Rick Riordan Presents imprint does it again! Paola Santiago puts her faith in science and concrete facts rather than her mom’s tales and superstitions about chupaccabras and La Llorona. She is sucked into it (not by choice) when her friend, Emma, is kidnapped. Will Paola find her light as she is faces the very Mexican folklore and myths that she doesn't believe in?

With so many engaging characters, this was a fun action-packed read. Definitely recommend!
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As always, the Rick Riordan Presents imprint does another heritage justice. This is a stunning tale of adventure where characters and setting are as strong as the story.

 I don't read middle grade books that often, and the ones I do are usually ones I grew up with. I loved the sound of this book, and I'm so happy that I can honestly say it was a fantastic read! The pacing is just perfect, giving us a gradual buildup and then full steam ahead.

I appreciated the themes of friendship, not appreciating what you have and seeing people in a different light. The ending was a total surprise to me and I really enjoyed it. The book’s nuanced look at the nature of stories (and at the motives of storytellers) is a delight, asking the reader to simultaneously think more critically and be more open-minded about folktales. At first I was wondering how these kids would be able to do what many adults in the story couldn’t do. But Tehlor did an awesome job of bringing it all together. I’m hoping that this author has a sequel up their sleeve because I would love to find out what happens next!
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Generally speaking, you know what you're in for with this book. As with any of the "Rick Riordan presents" books, we have a regular kid who is confronted with the reality of myth or folk lore. There's magic, spirits, and an over-arching villain who must be defeated within a specific time frame. This book shines in the details that have been fitted into that framework. It's more than just a different culture. Pao's life experiences are unique. She's facing borderline poverty, racism and classism. The world seems designed to prevent her from advancing. And with her interest in science, she's dismissive of folklore as nonsense. She sees her mother's interests as not only foolish, but potentially damaging. This adds to the conflict on multiple levels. And her interest in science informs her approach to the challenges she faces.
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Paola Santiago has never believed in her mom’s tales and superstitions about chupaccabras and La Llorona. Instead, she puts more stock in science and things she can explain. When her friends, Emma gets kidnapped, however, Dante’s grandmother gives them an Arma de Alma and sends them to the River of Tears. When they cross over, the two soon discover that the tales are true. An unseen force is kidnapping children and draining them of their life force. With the help of Los Niños de Luz, the duo will have to face the force head on. Will they be able to save Emma? What force could be worse than La Llorona? Action-packed and full of mystery, this adventure is engaging and easy to read. The Spanish intermixed in the text meshes well into the story, is easy to figure out in context, and doesn’t overwhelm the story. The characters are likable, flawed, and easy to relate to. Fans of Rick Riordan, mythology, fantasy, and adventure will enjoy reading this book. The characters are of Latino descent.
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I found this book to such a fun and diverse read. I really loved the mythology and story this book tackled. I think it had some of my fav middle grade elements, like exploring myths, friendship and story connections to modern day. I really liked how this book looked at how mexican children have realtionships with the police. I think the pacing at points was not the strongest and sometimes the pacing laged a bit and did not keep me as eagaged toward the second half of the book. But overall I really grew to the like the characters and the world overall. Will def read book 2 for sure.
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Rick Riordan Presents has become my most read Middle Grade books. I love folklore and Tehlor Kay Mejia really delivered with an amazing novel that provides a whole new version of an old legend. I found Paola incredibly likable and I understood, as a daughter myself, how tense a mother/daughter relationship can be. I was delighted to be introduced to a new culture and couldn't not put this book down. The themes of family and friendship were both moving and very real. Overall this was fantastic and I cannot wait for more!
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First of all, I was SO. EXCITED. to get this ARC because I’m a huge fan of mythology related stories and learning about different mythologies is the best! I’ve read a few other RRP books so I went into this thinking it would have that same fun nature as the other RRP books did but oh my goodness I was so surprised when it was actually much darker and creepier than I thought (IN THE BEST WAY)!

Paola is a 12 year old scientist that doesn’t believe in the ghost stories and other folklore her mother is obsessed with. So naturally, her whole world is flipped upside down when she gets sucked into this whole adventure!

I loved reading through Paola’s POV. She is so spunky and fun and stubborn. Plus her science facts thrown in there just made this so fun and engaging to read! I really related to her need to rationalize everything and feeling a bit left out with her friends.

On top of that, the whole story was just so addicting. I think I read this in like two sittings because it was so engrossing! It was equal amounts of magical, spooky and fun! I was definitely stressed for Paola and her friends as they fought Chupacabras and other scary monsters!

On top of that, I loved learning about the different mythological creatures and magic involved! The entire quest was so well done and I know I’m definitely repeating myself here but I cannot emphasize enough how surprised I was and how dark it got! I’d never heard the stories about La Llorona before so I was so creeped out by that as well! Kids were told these stories?! *shudders*

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a dark and spooky adventure, likes random scientific facts to try to rationalize magic, magical chanclas?!, a flashlight that may or may not actually work the way it’s intended, and unlikely pets made extremely unlikely places. If you enjoy friends who will do anything for each other, fierce female characters, fighting monsters and twists and turns, you’ll definitely love this adventure!
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I am so glad that Rick Riordan has started this line of books that showcase folklore and history from other cultures!  I think it is a wonderful way to get children excited about reading and learning about various cultures and not just Greek and Roman deities.  This story has a female protagonist who doesn't believe in the Hispanic stories and folklore that her mother has taught her throughout her life.  She feels more comfortable studying space and science than tarot cards and candles.  I think that the intended, middle grade, audience will love this book.  As an adult, I kept losing interest in the story (although that may have more to do with the real world than with the River of Tears).  Overall, it was enjoyable, just not my favorite.
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I’ve been looking forward to this book pretty much since it was announced, because, one, Rick Riordan Presents as an imprint is hitting it out of the park with these releases and, two, La Llorona was a part of my childhood, and yes to all the Mexican folklore in this.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is a harrowing adventure into a dark world full of myth and superstition, where a young girl learns to find her light.

This was a fun adventure that took a little while to get started, but once I was in, I was in. That much was as expected. What I didn’t expect was how much heart this story had. Oof, it got me directly in the feels several times, and the last 25% especially were such an emotional roller coaster. I can’t wait for the second book now, based on some secrets this book teases!

My Thoughts:

- Paola Santiago is a girl who believes firmly in science and logic … and who is about to have everything she thought she knew tested. First, I thought it was so refreshing for a female protagonist to so unabashedly love science. Paola’s arc was so wonderfully partly because she doesn’t just believe in science, but she believes in it to the detriment of everything that doesn’t cleanly and logically fit into her world view. You know, like her mother’s superstitions and folklore, which annoy her to no end, because she thinks her mother is holding her back by falling into some Mexican stereotype. One that Paola doesn’t want to be a part of. The real beauty of Paola’s arc is that she not only grows a little more mature by the end, but she accepts that she’s not always going to have such maturity, because she’s 12, and it’s okay to be 12. Honestly, this was such a fresh, wonderful take on it, and I loved it. What Paola really showcases is that you can learn from these and turn it around later, even if you’re not always perfect in the moment.

- This book is chock full of Mexican culture, from some Spanish phrases to la chancla (it’s not quite what you think, I promise), and monsters right out of Mexican folklore. I know some Mexican folklore, but not nearly as much as I thought, apparently? Because I was surprised by additions more often than I should have been, so I refuse to tell you anything about the folklore itself so you can discover it as you go, too. In case you couldn’t tell from the La Llorona mention, some of this folklore can get downright dark and creepy. I mean, you’ve got a woman who drowned her children and is now lamenting it in death as the figurehead of this book. Not exactly screaming roses and sunshine here. The book itself was definitely uplifting and had a positive message, but I’d be remiss in not saying that it delves into some pretty ugly things. The way some of these creatures are described, too! It’s just *chef’s kiss*.

- It takes a little while for this book to really get going, but once it does, it’s a wild ride full of adventure and feels! I feel like we’ve come to expect adventure from a Rick Riordan Presents book at this point, but there’s nothing better than the feels naturally blindsiding you in the middle of a life-threatening romp for the sake of humanity, am I right? Little Paola is dealing with a lot of big emotions, from racism to a father who abandoned her and her mother, to racism, to her first major crush. It’s a lot for anyone. It’s not even only Paola’s feelings in this, because the antagonist has some pretty big feelings, too, which was really nice to see. Scary, murdery, and mostly bad for humanity feelings, but big feelings, nonetheless.

- I loved the strong friends vibe in this book, and how Paola is grappling with it maybe becoming something more. Paola struggles with a lot of age-appropriate things, like how to handle a first crush, if the feeling is mutual, and even jealousy. It’s hard when friendship dynamics change, no matter what the reason is. I liked the fact that the budding maybe-romance was present and treated realistically but didn’t dominate the book. Paola’s experience was so sweet and so entirely pre-teen that I couldn’t help but love it. Also, the banter between these two? On. Point. Twelve year old’s got some snark. Who would’ve guessed?

- The major themes in this book are forgiveness and understanding, and it made for such a beautiful read. I’m not even sure I can impress upon you just how much I absolutely LOVED this aspect of the book. I may have teared up a little bit. Just a little. I probably had something in my eye is all. *sniff* I actually don’t want to say too much about this theme, because it was so well done that you really just need to discover it. Needless to say, there’s a lot of forgiveness to go around. My favorite thing (probably because I’m biased) has to be the dynamic between Paola and her mother, which is where the understanding comes in. Because while Paola’s mother always believed in the folklore, Paola turned her nose up at it, and it was a real point of contention between them.
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The characters (both human and mythical) are well written and developed. especially Paola, Orinda, and .  The story is defined by the relationships between multiple sets of characters and the action scenes will keep your heart pounding.  Though many middle grade stories center around friendship and family, this tale is honest about those relationships and places particular important on forgiveness.  Some of the mythical elements could have used more flushing out (the rift and the orb).
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Stay away from the river. That’s the rule. And Paola and her best friends Emma and Dante have enjoyed breaking it when the Texas summer gets a little too hot, even though they know at least one kid who drowned there and even though Paola’s mom has warned her about the wailing ghost spirit who haunts the river looking for victims. Then one night Emma doesn’t show up for their secret star-gazing trip, and Pao finds herself plunged into a world of Mexican folklore and myth.

You know the drill with Rick Riordan’s imprint, but Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is a nice departure from the formula in a few notable ways. For one thing, Paola’s a scientist, and she sees the world through a lens of observation and analysis. For another, the book deals with very real issues of racism and immigration — the scene where Pao and Dante try to report their (white) friend missing at the police station is harrowing because it rings so true. There’s also a strong sense that adults can't confront the evils of the world — children are the ones who have to do that, and they are stronger, smarter, and better equipped to do that than the adults in their lives — something that some recent protests might seem to support (and frankly one of the things that keeps me hopeful about the future). Most notably, though, I think this book stands out because it doesn’t play out in simple terms of good and evil — the Big Bad in this book doesn’t turn out to be Chaos or Plague but a much more human kind of evil, and the “right thing” isn’t a clear and simple path. I liked this one a lot.
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Paola Santiago is obsessed with space and science, and does not believe in her mom's superstitions of beings like La Llorona. Pao and her friends, Dante and Emma, are constantly told to stay away from the river after a classmate drowned a year ago. But the Gila River has the best spots for stargazing so the three plan to meet up one night, except Emma never shows up. Pao and Dante's search for Emma leads them to a world of nightmares and monsters, and they have to race against time if they want to save Emma and themselves.

This was such a fun book! It's a great journey story, from the real world to the nightmarish world Pao and Dante find themselves in. The story was really engaging and I had to know what happened next and who was causing everything. It was a little spooky, which I really enjoyed, and full of fun and interesting monsters. I especially loved Bruto, who was the cutest ever. It was a fun story and I'm excited to hear that there's going to be a sequel coming out next summer!
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I'll confess that I didn't read Rick Riordan when the various series first came out. It wasn't until Magnus Chase, which I kind of read along with my niece and nephew, that I discovered how good the books can be.

But more than that, I'm really pleased how he's taken his influence as a YA/MG author of urban fantasy mythology books and used it as a platform for new authors to share their stories. Books that are written in the same vein, kids on an adventure against monsters, myths, and legends. The Aru Shah series is one of my faves of these.

Paola "Pao" Santiago is the heroine in a novel with a new take on the legend of La Llorana, a weeping ghost who drowned her own children, and now wanders the river banks looking for them. Add to the story that she may grab any stray kids she comes across on their own and take them to their watery grave, and you have the makings of one lady it would be best to avoid.

Pao is very logical and science based and puts no stock in this story whatsoever. But when one of her best friends, Emma, goes missing, it seems as if the nightmares that have plagued her her entire life may have become reality. Her adventure begins when she decides that is up to her to save Emma, no matter what.

The first in this new series, I'm excited to see what Pao will tackle next!
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IMHO, this is a nearly perfect middle grade novel. The characters, plot, and writing meld together in a way that would have thrilled me as a tween, but are just as engaging now!

Paola Santiago has been told to stay away from the river her entire life – her mother has warned her about La Llorona, the ghost that haunts its banks. And when a classmate drowned there last year, the banks became completely off limits. However, its the best place to see the stars, so Pao and her best friends Emma and Dante, hang out there whenever they can. Excited to test out a new telescope, the friends arrange to meet, but when Emma never arrives, Paola and Dante are terrified. Pao will do absolutely anything to find her friend, even when the science she’s always trusted starts to crumble around her. All her life she’s scoffed at her mothers superstitions and stories, but suddenly they’re real, and scarier than ever.

I wish this I had this book in elementary school. (Well, even though I know I would have loved it then, I still loved it now so…) I love this genre to death – mythology, kid heroes, adventure and friendship – and Paola Santiago is SO. WELL. DONE. Mejia gets this genre in a way few others that I’ve read have. She embraces the traditional heroes journey arc, not trying to do anything *new* and *original* that jars the storytelling. (There’s a reason that structure is a classic!) She has created a wonderful protagonist, who I shall proclaim my love for more in detail below, and used the mythology in just the right way to create the perfect adventure.

THANK YOU NET GALLEY for approving my request for this book. Seriously, I have no idea how that happened, I’ve only done one review there so far and my blog doesn’t have much influence, but THANK GOODNESS IT DID. The fact that I had the privilege to read this book early is amazing, and I shall be recommending it as loudly as I can, because, well, just read it!

One last note before starting, this was my first Rick Riordan Presents book, and it has inspired me to read as many of them as I can get my hands on. Mejia’s voice as an author is very different from Riordan’s, but I could clearly see the influence the PJO series had in the story (as Mejia writes about in the acknowledgements). I cannot wait to read more of these books, and I want an epic series centered around Pao!

****SPOILERS FROM HERE ON****

CHARACTERS:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Certain books just *get* kids better than others. Sometimes authors write how they assume tweens act, but don’t seem to understand the combination of intense awkwardness and unabashed confidence that defines that age. At least, that was my experience. Mejia falls into the latter of those two categories. The way she writes this age group is just perfect! For me at least, the characters of Pao, Dante and Emma resonated with how I thought and acted as a tween. Others may differ, but in my opinion Mejia understood the 11-13 ish age group in a way few authors have.

First, let me get this out of the way: Marisa is great, Dante is awesome, Bruto is PRECIOUS, Franco is super intriguing, and Señora Mata is the best.

Now, I can take the rest of this section to sing the praises of the titular character, Paola Santiago.

She is the perfect fantasy protagonist. She’s quick on her feet, smart, sweet, and loyal in a way that just makes me want to hug her. (A side note – loyalty is by far my most favorite quality in someone. Whether its in a romantic, platonic, or familial context, loyalty makes me love a character (or real human) that much more. I think this stems from my own personal trauma…but that aside I think loyalty is the most amazing quality). Pao loves science, she believes in the tangible, things she can measure, prove, and repeat. So when Paola is thrust into a world where she can’t even count on the laws of physics to guide her, she is understandably upset. However, she takes a couple moments to freak out, calms down, and figures it out. She immediately tries to learn the rules of this new environment, through trial and error, never once giving in to doubt or freezing. WHAT! A! BADASS!

Pao is feisty, determined, and is completely correct about Starbursts. (They do actually sell bags of only pink ones, they’re the best!) Her crush on Dante is incredibly endearing, and written so well I just….squee!

Not that she’s perfect, Paola is a fully rounded, flawed character. She has control issues, a quick temper, and sometimes feels jealous when she’s not in the spotlight. But all of the traits I’ve listed are written cohesively to fall neatly within the character arc, and are accurate to Pao’s age.

I just, I love Pao.

PLOT:

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 4 out of 5.
This story is tight and fast paced, not a page is wasted. The story and characters are always being developed, and that development builds at a constant rate. (Nothing annoys me more than inconsistency in development, it just drives me absolutely crazy.) Everything falls neatly into the heroes journey timeline.

My only criticism is the La Llorona fake out. I enjoyed the twists and turns it brought, but I wish the fake villain had been more clearly established. La Llorona was so built up, from the back of the book cover to every time Pao mentioned her old fears, it was hard to believe that she wasn’t going to end up the villain. And then she did…and it was awesome!

DIALOGUE:

⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 3 out of 5.
The dialogue carried the plot and characterization quite well, but it didn’t stand out to me as unusually witty or poetic. No complaints here, but nothing groundbreaking either.

THEME:

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This book is all about relationships between mothers and daughters. Paola and her mom have a caring but strained relationship – they clash in terms of beliefs. Paola scoffs at her mother’s superstitions, and though there is a lot of love between them, there’s also a lot of tension. And there Ondina and La Llorona herself. That whole relationship is a mess. A complicated, beautifully written, mess! Grief and guilt are two of the most powerful emotions, and combined with a parent/child bond, create a really compelling and emotional villain.

Another theme in The River of Tears is loyalty. Paola is extraordinarily loyal to those she cares about. She will go to the end of the world to save Emma, and when she befriends Bruto, she is instantly on his side. I really hope this theme will get developed in later books (if there are any, pleeeease make there be more) to show the flip side of this positive trait. Mejia already started to plant seeds of Pao maybe not being totally “good,” something that made me super excited. Middle grade protagonists rarely get to have questionable morals, and I really want to see more of this in future books.

PROSE:

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is written simply and sweetly. The language is not very complicated, but never once does it feel juvenile, like its only meant for young kids. Mejia writes the scary scenes really, really well. The setting of the climax is legitimately terrifying, and the reader can visualize everything easily and with clarity. The chapter titles are also wonderful!

REPRESENTATION:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
All of the main characters in this book are Latinx. This is the kind of representation that we need in books, especially in the middle grade genre. Kids need to see themselves represented, and not just as token diversity side characters. Also, in the end of the book, when Pao and Dante were questioning why Emma would go meet a girl she just met, Emma blushes. She totally had a crush on Ondina. I really hope that gets developed in later books, I would love to see some LGBTQ representation as well!

REPRISE:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I’ve only read this once, but when I’ve been rereading sections while writing this review and all of the writing has stood up really well. The ending is just a creepy and suspenseful when you know how Pao succeeds, which is a testament to how well written this book is. This is exactly the kind of story I love to reread, genre bending stories with wonderful characters.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

- I love books where you learn about a topic while reading. First off, it’s a great way to learn about something new, and it sticks in your brain so much easier when it’s involved in a story. Also, I don’t know if this is just me, but I always feel smarter when I read a book where I’m learning.
- I love the chapter titles in this! Why on earth would you ever use “Chapter 5” when you could have things like “Stupid Snarky Subconscious”
- Rick Riordan’s intro is the perfect length, and rightfully heaps praise on the story.
- Pao’s algae daydreams are adorable!
- There’s a couple of weirdly long sentences throughout the book. I think I only noticed it because I write those weirdly long sentences all the time.
- I have so many memories of boys at that age doing the same hair flop Dante does.
- I love how Pao used science and research to get over her childhood fear of La Llorona. It’s an amazing character detail.
- Yes Pao! Pink starburst and dogs! I love her!
- Dante and Paola are both PRECIOUS about their crushes.
- There’s something sad about how Pao’s mom tells her that she was always the adult in the house.
- God, the officer is horrible. Racist asshole.
- I’m so glad Dante is given the opportunity to cry. Male characters are so often denied tears, let alone be able to sob.
- Having ones bearings turned against you is a fantastic plot device, and Mejia writes it really well.
- The fight scene is a little confusing. I don’t if it was just me, but I wasn’t sure if Ondina or Marisol was the victor for a while into the conversation.
- I love it when books snark about how young their protagonists are, especially in a fantasy context.
- The scene where Dante and Pao laugh hysterically is so realistic. Sometimes the trauma gets to be to much and the only thing to do is laugh. This scene makes my heart hurt for them.
- Giant hand. Bleeeeeegh.
- The battle scene is epic!
- The flame! HAHAHA! I bet The 100 took that name from this mythology.
- Pao jumping into the chasm is amazing! She’s just a complete badass!!
- Bruto is precious!
- I want Señora Mata’s backstory so badly. Prequel series please!!!!

Link to my blog: http://humbleopinionblog.com/2020/08/01/arc-paola-santiago-and-the-river-of-tears/
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I really enjoyed this book. It was fun to see so many of the stories from a culture that is not my own played out like this.

My main complaint about this book was that throughout the story we hear Pao ask of she is a "bad feminist" for thinking or wanting some things. But I held my judgment on that until the end and I think the Author did a fine job and making it clear that wanting those things did not in fact make her a "bad" feminist.
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Paola Santiago is a person who believes in science and is not like her superstitious mother who burns candles, reads cards, and tells stories about La Llorona and other characters from Latin American folklore. But when her best friend, Emma, disappears by the river, she and their friend, Dante, go off to search for her -- with a little help from Dante's abuela and her bag of seemingly worthless stuff.

Pao ultimately must enter the reality of her nightmares in order to save her friend. She discovers that science and folklore may not be as incompatible as she had thought, and she begins to better understand her mother and their relationship.

I was not familiar with the story of La Llorona or any of the otherworldly creatures (other than the chupacabras), and I'm glad I was introduced to them in this story. The Rick Riordan Presents series has opened my eyes to a number of cultures' folklore and mythology and done it in an engaging way. While this book did have a bit of a lull in the middle, it kept me interested and had an exciting ending.

My thanks to Rick Riordan Presents and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is about 12 year old Paola Santiago going on an adventure to find her friend who has gone missing like many others had in the same year. She learns that not everything is explained by science and that the legends her mother tells her, that make her roll her eyes, may have truth to them. She learns dreams have meanings and spirits exist.
It is the book I needed as a middle schooler.  It has all the adventure of Percy Jackson, but with the added bonus of characters that look like me and myths I heard. I think it's a wonderful way for kids to learns about other myths besides Greek.

Another amazing thing about Tehlor's books is the social commentary peppered in: from the treatment that POC face from  law enforcement to the way the colorism in our own communities. She hits on the dynamics in young friend groups, especially when some are more privileged than others and how they change as everyone gets older.

Another great theme of the book is the power of women and mothers and the impact those relationships have on their daughters.
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I've been a Rick Riordan fan for ages, but this is the first Rick Riordan Presents book I've read, and it did not disappoint. Paola is a budding scientist who grates under her mom's superstitions, but when one of her best friends goes missing, she and her other best friend realize her mom's stories are real and enter the adjacent magical world. While I'm no longer the target demographic for children's books, I really enjoyed this and think fans of Riordan's would as well (I was also 100% HERE for when Pao points out how Latinx kids are treated by some authority figures and some have to fear ICE raids). I loved the Lantinx myths and how Mejia brought them to life, even though I could have used a bit more explanation on some of them.. The Google Translate app was also helpful as I have a very minimal amount of working Spanish (even less than Pao does) but I really liked the occasional bits of Spanish that were woven in. I also really enjoyed Dante as a character and his and Pho's relationship, though I still had some unresolved issues around Marisa and some of the other kids (but I'm also a completionist who wants all the answers NOW) but maybe that's for future books to explain. 
I'm intrigued to see where the series will go from here, but the book gave enough details for speculation (which is half the fun when you can't immediately jump into the next book).
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