January 29, 2015

REVIEW: LETTERS FROM HEAVEN / CARTAS DEL CIELO by Lydia Gil


     
Join The Latina Book Club is its week-long celebration of multicultural children's books and diversity.



Arte Publico Press
"The note was important, because even if you missed the visit, you'd still get to enjoy the surprise...To know that someone cared enough about you to come by." -- Grandma



The bond between mothers and daughters is special, but the bond between Grandmothers and granddaughters is extraordinary.  Abuelitas / Grandmas are like BFFs, cohorts, protectors and wise women all rolled into one.  You can tell them things you can't tell your mother and know they are always in your corner.

Lydia Gil's LETTERS FROM HEAVEN/ CARTAS DEL CIELO starts with the loss of an grandmother-granddaughter bond.  Our young heroine, Celeste, is struggling to deal with this loss and the changes in her life.

Upon the loss of her beloved grandmother, her world changes literally overnight -- her mother has to get a second job and is hardly home; there is not enough money to keep Celeste in dance class; she becomes a latch-key-kid home alone after school; and her friends and teachers treat her with a continuing pity which angers her.  Then Celeste receives a letter -- a letter from Grandma -- a Letter from Heaven.  Each letter contains an encouraging message and a favorite recipe. 

The letters help Celeste get past her grief and help reconnect mother and daughter.  Soon Celeste realizes that she has enough recipes to make a complete meal, a celebration of her Abuelita's cooking and life.  So she invites her neighbors and her friends to a family dinner where they can all remember her Grandma with "love.... and flavor!"

LETTERS FROM HEAVEN / CARTAS DEL CIELO is a little book of 50-odd pages.  Readers will devour it in half an hour or less; and start crying at the half-way mark.  This book is emotional, engaging and mysterious. 

Celeste is an endearing heroine that will win the hearts of readers of all ages.  By the end of the book, readers will get the urge to cook a traditional Cuban meal as the book contains six easy-to-follow recipes.  And, another great thing about this book is that you can flip it over and the Spanish translation is on the "back."  Happy Reading! ---mcf ###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Lydia Gil was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, of Cuban parents.  She is the author of the bilingual children's picture book, MIMI'S PARRANDA / LA PARRANDA DE MIMI (Piñata Books, 2007).  She teaches at the University of Denver and writes for EFE, the leading Spanish-language news agency.  She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Visit the author at http://lydiagil.com/.