Cover Image: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

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I adore historical fiction and this story is the best one I've read in 2021. This book is perfect for middle graders and teens studying the Mexican Revolution.
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The novel is based on the author's great-grandmother's experiences, and it's an essential piece of history.  Younger audiences will gain insight into why many families fled from Mexico to the United States, as well as some perspective on current concerns. Petra is burdened with a great deal of responsibility, yet she faces each obstacle with courage and optimism for the future. When she wanted to join the Revolutionarios and fight to rescue her country, her ambition to learn to read and her commitment to her family made me feel proud. 

Petra cherishes a black rock given to her by Papa during the voyage. He'd brought it from the mine, explaining that "when a bit of coal is pressed extremely hard for a very long period, it becomes a diamond." Petra, like her black rock, gets stronger as life presses her. Petra emerges with courage, empathy, and passion towards the end of her journey.
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I don’t often read middle grade books, but the description of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna sounded too good to pass up. This heartbreaking and inspiring book tells the story of a young girl and her journey to the United States from Mexico in 1913. After the Federales destroy her town, twelve year old Petra leads her grandmother and two younger siblings on a quest for safety. This heartbreaking tale shows so much strength and determination and throughout all of the challenges Petra never gives up hope. This truly beautiful story is made even more special after reading the author’s note: her inspiration for this story came from her great-grandmother’s tales of fleeing Mexico and crossing the border to escape the Federales. This story is heavy but so inspiring at the same time. 


Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Kids for the advanced copy.
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I wonder when I read beginnings like those in Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs if the writing can be maintained at that level for a whole book. 

“The smoking star lit the night sky as women wept, holding their babies close. Men kept quiet while the old and the weak prayed for mercy. It was on that night, that all of us huddled under the giant crucifix, the night when everyone – everyone but me – awaited the end of the world.”

During the Revolution in Mexico in 1913, twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s mother is dead and her father carried away by soldiers. She has promised him she will care for her abuelita, her little sister and baby brother. Little does she know this will entail the burning of her town, days trying to cross the desert hoping she is heading toward freedom in the United States, and efforts to avoid the fighting. Small havens of safety turn out to be temporary. Through it all, she dreams of a time when she will have a better life and learn to read. Abuelita helps her care for the younger children but discourages her aspirations calling them “barefoot dreams,” unattainable by peasants like themselves.

In a YouTube video, “Book Talk: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs,”
the author says the book was inspired by a great-grandmother’s real-life experience. She wanted to verify the stories her great-grandmother had told but encountered difficulty in doing research in order to add details and authenticity to the novel. When she was ready to give up, she gives credit goes to a librarian who helped her find newspaper accounts of those who experienced the difficult flight to safety in America from the Revolution.  

The writing lived up to its beginning promise and left the door wide open for a sequel showing how Petra Luna learned to read. I hope the sequel is in the works.
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The story of a 12 year old girl and her family in Northern Mexico during the 1913 Revolutionary War. A powerful story told from the prospective of a young girl who perseveres in the face of adversity. "When a piece of coal gets squeezed very hard for a very long time, it becomes a diamond." I highly recommend this book, it's absorbing, well written and gives voice to a brave, strong resourceful young woman.

** I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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September 10, 2021
*Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own*

I wanted to start by saying that I know next to nothing about the history of Mexico so reading this book has taught me a lot in that regard. This is a heavy book, even more, when you stop to think it's a real story, the events that happen in this book happened in real life, that for me makes everything heavier and harder to read. This is a hard book to read but at the same time fast, the author's writing is amazing, I must have marked this entire book because we have wonderful passages about reflections on life.
I think writing this story in the eyes of a 12-year-old girl was very accurate on the author's part because it brings a very simple and real vision of what is happening.
Petra is one of the strongest and bravest characters I've ever read, her resilience will inspire me forever, she looks so mature because she's been through so much and has so many responsibilities but that doesn't stop her from dreaming.
No matter what she dreams.
To me this is a book that everyone should read, it's fast but incredibly important!
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Magnificent writing! Gorgeous descriptions! Plus historical accuracy. All together these make this book one of the best books I’ve read this year and by far the best middle grade/young adult book I’ve read in years. The inclusion of the authors note at the end of this volume made the story even more meaningful. 

As a Spanish bilingual teacher I definitely plan to incorporate this into my classroom. It feels a much needed gap in literature that is accessible and appropriate for middle grades/YA but still includes historical components that make this complex historical time in Mexico easier to understand. I loved how the Dodds included little explanations of some of the terms or people during that time period to help the reader understand, but she didn’t go so far into detail that it derailed the plot. Many of these little lines would create good jumping points for learning more about the time period and how people lived, or survived. 

I was invested in the characters from the start. Petra is a fierce girl who takes life by the horns and drives it into submission; however the world around her isn’t made for that type for girl yet so she is constantly at odds with her abuela. I also really enjoyed that they grandmother helps to ground Petra when she feels all is lost.

Overall I highly suggest everyone read this book. It was absolutely phenomenal, well researched and extremely well written. I look forward to future novels from this author. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC to review.
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Based on the true history of the author’s great-grandmother, this is a beautiful and important story of hope, resiliency, and family set in historical Mexico, 1913. Petra Luna, her Abuela, her little sister, and her baby brother flee their home when Federales burn the village. Petra’s Abuelita calls reading and writing barefoot dreams, meaning they’re not meant to go far but when they’re helped by a female rebel captain, Petra reaffirms that she can be more than her Abuelita thinks — that she can keep her promise to save her family and realize her barefoot dreams, too. Their trials culminate in a harrowing and life-threatening experience as they wait with throngs of other people trying to cross the bridge into the United States before the Federales arrive on the Mexican side. Exciting, interesting, and inspiring.
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Based on the real-life experiences of the author’s great-grandmother, “Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna” by Alda P. Dobbs is an important and captivating middle grade novel that is beautifully written, and full of heart and hope.

I honestly cannot recommend this book enough! I found myself absolutely captivated by Petra’s story, which is a slice of history of which I previously had no knowledge. This book deals with some very real, dramatic, and heart-breaking events and issues, but ultimately, this is a story of resilience and strength. I cannot wait to share it with my readers!
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Petra's name means rock. Before her father went off to fight in the revolution he gave Petra a special rock to remember him by -- her own baby diamond. In his absence Petra (only 12 years old) has promised to look after her Abuelita, her little sister Amelia and baby brother Luisito. After the Federales burn and pillage their village, the family takes flight. Where can they go? Time after time they find a refuge and tragedy strikes once again. Petra has her heart set on crossing in to the United States. Will they all survive the trip? There are some moments of extreme peril, but the family is not without hope. Inspired by the life of the author's great-grandmother, this book is a reminder of the way hardships and challenges can dig in and chisel us like a diamond into a new and more resilient individual. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review.

Set in 1913 in northern Mexico during the Revolutionary War, Petra and her family flee their small town when the Federales arrive and destroy everything in their path. Petra must lead her baby brother, sister, and grandmother to safety, and so she sets her sights on traveling to the United States. I think this story is more powerful because it is based on the real-life events of the great-grandmother of the author. I also think this book is an opportunity to learn more about the Mexican Revolution from a variety of viewpoints. 

Due to the amount of violence in the book, it is set during a war, I would recommend this book to upper middle grade readers.

A quote to remember...
"It's the same with people. When life's big problems squeeze you hard, you grow stronger. You grow up to shine like a diamond."
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"Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna" by Alda P. Dobbs is the riveting and poignant story of twelve-year-old Petra, her baby brother, and her grandmother as they flee for their lives during the Mexican Revolution.  Her mother dead, her village burned, and her father conscripted by the Federales, Petra and her family have no choice but to escape the violence by going north through the desert, perhaps all the way across the Rio Bravo and into the United States.  

This story is based on the real experiences of the author's great-grandmother, making it even more absorbing.  I found myself laughing and crying along with Petra, who dreams of someday going to school and learning to read.  Her dreams of an education for herself and safety for her family are so easily taken for granted for most of us in the United States.  This book will open the eyes of young readers to a new perspective and hopefully will influence their thoughts on the current immigrations issues of today.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be recommending it widely.  Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the privilege of reading an advanced digital copy of this captivating book, in exchange for my honest review.
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Set in 1913 this story of Petra, Abuelita, Amelia, and Luisito follows their escape from the Federales during the Mexican Revolution. Based on her families history, Dobbs has done a great job making one families immigration story accessible to intermediate and middle grade readers. It is full of adventure, excitement, interesting characters, and a hope for Petra and her family's safety.
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Excellent story of the Mexican Revolution of 1913 seen through the eyes of Petra Luna trying to save her family.  Displays the horror of the times and the treatment of the refugees.  Petra struggles to reach the United States with her 0ne-year-old brother and grandmother.  They are on the run because the federals have burned down their town.  The stories displays the hardships of the times and the dreams the refugees have of a better life in the United States.
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Petra Luna is a brilliant tale that showcases the Mexican Revolution, the difficulties of being a refugee, the challenge of leaving your home, and the sheer struggle for survival that many refugees face and continue to face to this day. Even though it is a book for children, it never brushes over the difficulties and has many hard parts that may be quite emotional. They are all written in appropriate ways for a middle grades novel. The author's note, describing the connection from this novel to her own personal history, was exceptionally poignant. I recommend for any middle grade reader who enjoys reading historical fiction.
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The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is set in 1910-1913 when a huge group of people from Mexico emigrated to the United States. Petra lost her mom shortly after she gave birth to her brother, and now the Federales have forced her dad to come with them - or face death. When the Federales destroy and burn Petra’s village, she has no choice but to flee through the desert. With her grandmother and younger sister and brother in tow, the already challenging task is made even harder. Along the way, Petra meets lots of interesting, caring people that help she and her family survive. Their journey is filled with grief and uncertainty, but Petra never forgets the promise she made her dad to take care of her family. She is brave and strong and never gives up. Definitely a great middle grade book!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.
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12-year-old Petra Luna is struggling to keep her family together. When the violent  Mexican Federales burn her village in the revolution of 1913, Petra must flee with her grandmother, little sister and baby brother.  Not knowing where to turn, the family seeks refuge wherever they can find it. One day, dreams Petra, she would love to learn to read and become a teacher. For now, she must help her family survive. Will her simple dreams ever become reality? The struggles of children during wartime are dramatically portrayed in this middle-grade novel based on a nearly-forgotten true story.
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Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is gripping and heartrending, with just enough hope to keep readers engaged and turning pages. There are not many books that address the Mexican Revolution, especially not for students, so this book is also informative. The author states that this book is based on the stories her grandmother and great-grandmother told her in her childhood about how dangerous life was during the Mexican Revolution, including the family's decision to flee their destroyed village in hopes of reaching the US Border before being slaughtered by the Federales, Petra has dreams, though, of learning to read and write and having a better future than her ancestors. Her Abuelita tells her these are barefoot dreams, though, meaning that she should just accept her lot in life as an impoverished, illiterate girl, meant to marry and care for a husband and children, because that is what she is destined for. I love Petra's determination, She is not content to have that type of life, and she cannot understand why that is what she is encouraged to do by someone who loves her. Young girls who are told that they can't fulfill their dreams due to their circumstances will see themselves in this book and will understand that they can be so much more if they believe in themselves. Petra has promised her father, who was conscripted to fight for the Federales in order to protect his family, that she will care for her Abuelita, her  younger sister and her baby brother, and she is determined to keep this promise. She is also determined that she will better herself and create opportunities for her family's future. The suspenseful ending of this book, also based on true events, which offers hope for that future, might seem a little overly optimistic, especially when we saw how immigrants are treated upon arriving to our country. Perhaps they, too, feel that every opportunity will be theirs upon crossing the border, though. While the ending might have that feel to it, the events leading up to it are not sugar-coated when it comes to the violence and hardships faced by Petra and the people she travels with. This will be a solid middle-school book for creating empathy when it comes to immigration and poverty.
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I went into this not knowing much more about the Mexican Revolution, other than it happened. So, it was delightful to learn about what happened, via the story of an Indigenous young girl who had to escape with her grandmother and sister and brother to America, so they wouldn't be killed by the Federals, the army of the bad guys.

I loved that we got to see a revolutionary that was a woman commander, and that she invited Petra to join the army.

It is a sad book, to be sure, but Petra has strength, and you keep cheering for her along the way.

Based on the life of her great grandmother, during the Mexican Revolution of 1913, she was amazed, when doing research to find how much of her great-grandmother's story was true.

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>
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Excellent story that will help middle grade readers learn about an aspect of history not commonly taught in American schools. Yet, the book transcends the history and presents a longing for peace and  freedom  that   is universal.. While  the writing is not particularly literary, it seems appropriately accessible to the intended audience. 

Thanks for the advanced copy from the publisher!
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