Dancing Home
by Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

Antheneum, 2011. ISBN 978-1-416-90088-7.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 08/29/2011

Younger Readers

Dancing Home seems at first to be a simple tale of Margie, a first generation U.S.-born Mexican-American ten year-old, and her quest to fit into her Texas school and community. Cousin Lupe arrives from Mexico and serves as the catalyst that awakens changes in Margie's life and long-held beliefs.

Margie has turned her back on her Mexican roots, to the point of Anglicizing her given name of Margarita. Despite Margie not embracing speaking Spanish with her parents or any one else or the customs and traditions of her heritage, readers will still understand that Margie is compassionate, kind and thoughtful.

Lupe is gentle and sweet, despite all that she has experienced in her ten young years. Margie has been more fortunate, raised in an intact family that is tolerant of her struggles and her dismissal of her heritage. In time, Margie discovers herself and finds confidence through unlikely people and places, sharing her epiphany in her year-end school project. Dancing Home illustrates that it is difficult for a person to be whole unless she embraces who she is.

Authors Ada and Zubizarreta delve into a number of deep and emotional topics in Dancing Home: abandonment, identity, heritage, broken homes, illegal immigration, adoption, and adolescent struggles. Although these are relevant issues, I felt that they were glossed over and therefore could be confusing to the book's target readers. Dancing Home would be a great selection for a mother-daughter book club, where girls would benefit from a deeper examination and discussion of these issues.

Alma Flor Ada is an authority on multicultural and bilingual education. She is the author of numerous award-winning books for young readers, including My Name is Maria Isabel, Under the Royal Palms (Pura Belpré Medal), and The Gold Coin (Christopher Award). She lives in California, and you can visit her website.

Gabriel Zubizarreta draws from his experiences of raising his three wonderful daughters in his writing. He hopes his books will encourage young people to author their own destinies. He enjoys cooking, sports and being a father to his children. He lives in Northern California with his family and invites you to visit his website.

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