Cover Image: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

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Member Reviews

Paola Santiago is an Arizona girl growing up close to the Gila River. Pao is a girl with a rational take on the world there is a scientific explanation for everything and her mom's tarot readings and her best friend's Dante's grandmother's stories are just that stories.  There are stories of the river as well, tales of children gone missing, supposedly drowned and tales of La Llorona.  When her friend Emma goes missing it's up to Pao and Dante to rescue their friend and it opens up a whole new supernatural world to Pao the rules make no sense, magic works and La Llorona may not be a myth after all.  This books is an amazing ride into myth that feels so familiar yet it's brand new.  Pao is becoming a young woman and there will be changes in her friendships, she is learning all sorts of new things about herself, about her friends and the most important lesson of all she is learning how to trust herself.  This is an adventure and well worth the time.
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This was a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed being introduced to some new (to me) folkloric/mythic characters. Paola is a feisty heroine, and I liked the way she examined her own anger as both a strength and a liability. The story is suspenseful with just the right amount of scariness. I gather it's to be a series, and I'll certainly look forward to the next one.
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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears explores the world of Mexican folklore like chupacabras, La Llorona, El Cucoy and more.  This was definitely a fun read, but it lacked the wit and humor I have come to expect from a Riordan book.  Granted this is a "Rick Riordan Presents" book, but I had hope for a little bit more of that humor and it seemed as if the chapter titles were one of the only aspects that were carried through to this one.  Putting that aside, this will still be an enjoyable read for middle grades and even young adults.   This novel not only pulls in traditional folklore but also brings in many issues today, like racial prejudice and immigration.   The main character, Paolo, faces demons both real and personal and must rise above all of them in order to help save her friends.
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Of all the Riordan Presents books that I've read so far, this one was probably the weakest, but I don't mean that In a negative way. I very much enjoyed the characters. Pao is a strong, smart girl who relies on science, and even after events begin to unfold, she has a hard time letting go of the science part and believing in the supernatural. Sometimes I got annoyed with how quickly Pao gets annoyed, and then I realized I understood because I'd been in her shoes of not wanting things to change as you get older. The fact that one of her best friends gets to play such a large part of the story was fun for me. I felt like this book is touted as being about the legend of La Llorona, but you hear her legend at the beginning and it wasn't until the last quarter-ish of the book that you discover who the mastermind of the whole situation is. I expected her to be a more prominent character in the story. Overall, I devoured this book. It was thoroughly enjoyable and possibly a little darker than I've come to expect from this label. The characters are lovable (especially Dante's grandma) and the book moves well for the most part. As I said, I was just a little disappointed in La Llorona not being a much bigger part of the story! I will definitely pick up the next book though!
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Thank you to NetGalley, Disney Book Group and the Rick Riordan Presents team for letting me have the opportunity to read this advanced reader.  When Mr. Riordan spoke of this book last Fall during his author tour with JC Cervantes and Roshani Chokshi I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. I am always fascinated by mythology and folk tales.  The theme of friendship through adversity and differences of opion to work together rang true throughout the book.  This book truly an outstanding addition to the Rick Riordan Presents.  Thank you for the opportunity to a great read.
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An exciting mythological adventure filled with kids who are stronger than they think, Latin  American mythology (La llorona) and monsters, and fast paced adventure.
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Absolutely phenomenal book. There are so many lessons, and take aways in this book. The story follows Pao as she encounters monsters and legends from Latin mythology in the pursuit of saving her friends. I read this in one sitting and am excited to share that it is the first of hopefully many adventures. 

Pao is a scientist in the making, that will need to have faith and believe in the intangible.  I am so excited about this series and pray it is received well.  Amazing.
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Paola Santiago & the River of Tears is an adventure story for lovers of ghost stories, magic and fantasy in the vein of Rick Riordan books and Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Paola and her friends, Emma and Dante, are average 12 year olds living in the small town of Silver Springs, AZ. But when Emma goes missing, Paola and Dante are determined to find her. As they venture into the unknown, Pao & Dante begin to discover that all is not quite as it seems in their sleepy town. As they slip through the barrier dividing the real world from the world of ghosts and demons, Paola is forced to admit that her mother's Latinx ghost stories, so frustrating and quaint to her scientifically-minded daughter, might just be true. 

I love that this #ownvoices story brings traditional Latinx folktales and ghost stories to life. Pao is every teen with superstitious parents or grandparents, struggling to reconcile her love for the people with embarrassment at the silly stories they tell, while at the same time wondering if there might be some truth to the stories after all. (turns out, there is!).

Several subjects ripe for discussion are raised throughout the book, including systemic racism within the police force, class differences (and what that means for friendship) and Pao's changing feelings for Dante. These legitimate concerns, primarily on Pao's part, are all threads woven in to the fabric of the story, giving the reader food for thought without interrupting the flow of the story. Paola Santiago & The River of Tears could easily be included as a choice for a social justice book club or it could simply be an entertaining fantasy read for a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

Thanks to @NetGalley for the ARC.
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Paola lives with her mother in an apartment complex not far from the Gila river. The two struggle economically, with her waitress mother earning a little extra cash doing healings for neighbors. Paola chafes at her mother's superstitions, especially the one about La Llorona that keeps her away from the river. Paola has a scientific bent, and would love to research more about her environment. Her friends Dante and Emma humor her; they would rather eat candy and have fun. When Emma does not meet Dante and Paola at the river one evening, they are concerned. Emma's parents are also worried, and instruct the tweens to head to the police department to meet them. Unfortunately, the policeman they meet is very prejudiced against Latinx people, and doesn't take their concerns seriously. Since another girl, Marisa, disappeared a year previously at the river, the community worries. Paola has had some odd things happen to her, and when she and Dante decide to go looking for their friend, Dante's grandmother does something odd-- she gives them a tote bag, an old flashlight of Paola's, and her bedroom slipper to take with them, warning them to be careful. Out near the river in a field of cactus, odd things happen, and the two meet Ondina, as well as Los Niños deLuz. Ondina seems determined to hurt Paola, and the group of children say that they are banded together to defeat an evil force that is taking children. Marisa is there, as is a neighbor of Paola's, Sal, whose family was taken from the building. Paola at first thinks that La Llorona is the driving force behind the chupacabras, ahogados, and other supernatural creatures who are attacking because the cycle of the moon has opened a portal. Mortals will be in danger if the children cannot control the breaches. Paola doesn't have a lot of powers, but she knows that if the rift in the worlds feeds on the power of children, it must be fixed! With the help of the children, Marisa, and Dante, will she be able to find her friend Emma and close the breach?
Strengths: I loved Paola's scientific mind, and the contrast between her and her mother's beliefs in Florida water, candles, and other very unscientific forces. The nascent romance between her and Dante is very realistic. The use of Latinx culture and supernatural beliefs was very interesting; while I had heard of chupacabras, I had never heard of La Llorona. 
Weaknesses: I find that most fantasy books, including those by Rick Riordan himself, tend to lag about 3/4 of the way through. In this title, Dante goes missing and must be found right around the time I was ready to have a big fight with the forces of evil and head toward the resolution. Since this occurs in so many books, it must just be my patience with the fantasy adventure arc.
What I really think: Readers who are enjoying the wide range of action adventure fantasies with cultural connections (That are not Anglo-Germanic! Finally!) like Roanhorse's Race to the Sun, Cuevas' The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, Mbalia's Tristan Strong, dasGupta's Kiranmala and other great titles will find Paola a worthy and interesting fighter against evil!
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I loved this book!  I have many Latinx students in my school that love the legend of La Llorona and I can't wait to share this book with them.  Paola, the MC, along with her best friend Dante, fight all sorts of legendary beasts and demons from Latinx lore to save their friend Emma who has gone missing.
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I love these Rick Riordan Presents books, and this one did not disappoint! Paola is a scientific mind who is embarrassed by her superstitious, tarot reading mother. But when her friend Emma goes missing and Pao is visited by a ghost, she realizes things may not always make sense. Maybe her mom was on to something after all. But can Pao and her friend Dante save Emma? Or will they die trying?
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Paola Santiago and her mother live in a flat on the poor side of town, her mother is always telling her stories of La Llorana and other Hispanic myths. Paola is not supposed to go to the Gila river, but she and her friends like to hang out by the river. Then her friend, Emma, doesn’t show up when she is supposed to meet up with them and it appears that she has been kidnapped. Paola has a weird dream and then she and her friend Dante, are sent off on an adventure to save their friend, by his grandmother with a bag of gifts one on which includes her house slipper. Will they be able to find Emma and save her in time?
#PaolaSantiagoandtheRiverofTears #NetGalley
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Paola is rigorously scientific, so she finds her mother's obsession with hokey rituals and folklore deeply embarrassing. Paola's own obsessions (everything from space travel to algae) mean she has precisely two friends: Dante and Emma. Then Emma becomes the latest in a series of children to vanish along the Gila River. All the adults think she drowned or was kidnapped, but Paola soon learns that the Gila leads to supernatural dangers. La Llorona. Chupacabras. Paola and Dante will have to face nightmares worse than any her mother recounted if they want to find Emma and keep their souls. Paola's application of logic to mythological horrors is a fun approach.
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This latest entry from the Rock Riordan Imprint will appeal to a wide variety of readers, particularly fans of his Percy Jackson series. Mejia does a fantastic job weaving Latinx mythology with real world issues that will resonate with young readers. The multilayered, engaging story will have students eager for another book. Highly recommended.
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When it comes to Mythology, the best stories have had heart, they’ve had compelling characters, and they’ve also tended to be longer reads.  From Percy Jackson to the Kane Chronicles, from Dragon Pearl to Tristan Strong, I’ve been around the world and back with so many different cultures, so many characters, and so many traditions that I’ve felt overwhelmed more than once. 

With Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, author Tehlor Kay Mejia did something different. Sure, I connected with Paola, Dante, and Emma from the first instant, but this book really raced along at breakneck speed. I’m trying so hard not to spoil some of the more delightful, shocking, and emotional moments in this book, but I was incredibly surprised by the level of fulfillment that such a relatively quick read could accomplish. 

Unlike some of the other books in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this book didn’t overtly set up a sequel through its third act. However, because of the characters, the heart, and the charming nature of this book, I would love to return to this world in the future.. 

I feel extremely confident in recommending such an entertaining and moving middle-grade novel. Sometimes, a story just worked and there’s nothing else to say.
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Turns out that reading about a child murdering ghost in the middle of what feels like a genuine apocalypse (hi there, COVID-19!) is a terrible idea. What I read of the book was perfectly fine (although I found the romance element tedious) , but it was just not the right book for me to be reading in the middle of all this fear, uncertainty, and sadness.
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I LOVED this book. It’s exciting, has great characterization, it’s funny, and it hits that sweet “7th-9th” grade spot. 

I highly recommend for any reader of fantasy, mythology, and magical realism.
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I'm usually a fan of the Rick Riordan presents books...we have almost all of them...but this one just didn't do it for me.  For the same mythology, the Charlie Hernandez series is actually a bit better.
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I really enjoyed the beginning of this book.  I found it hard in the middle but then it picked up at the end.  Overall a fair book but not one of my faves in the Riordan presents.
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