First of all, thank you everyone for all the birthday wishes! I had an awesome birthday and I am especially stunned by the outpouring of love and goodwill by my new blogging friends :) I love and appreciate you all!!
Now as promised, finally my review!
Rogelia's House of Magic by Jamie Martinez Wood
IQ "You see how the words 'courage' and 'corazon' are similar? That is no accident. The words come from the same root. Follow your heart and you will have courage." pg. 160
It's about 2 girls, Marina and Fern who are best friends. One day they attempt to perform a magic spell and in doing so, receive special powers. Fern sees auras and Marina hears voices of the dead. Marina's family has a maid, Rogelia who is a curandera (a spiritual healer). The girls want her to teach them about magic and she agrees. Rogelia's granddaughter, Xochitl (pronounced So-chee) doesn't want her grandmother teaching strangers magic. Xochitl has the power to turn invisible. However, she no longer believes in the power of magic due to the fact that magic didn't save her twin sister who died. The girls must all learn lessons about controlling their powers and being open to growth.
When reading Rogelia's House of Magic, you must go into it with an open mind. You will not be able to fully appreciate the book if you scoff at the idea of magic existing. This book was interesting to me, because in my opinion it made some good points as to why a certain spell would work or why/how magic existed. I learned a good deal about curanderas and how they work. The book subtly discusses how to be a believer in magic and a Christian.
I liked all the characters. I could relate to Marina because even though she's half Mexican, she doesn't speak Spanish (I'm half Latina and my Spanish is pretty bad). However, I thought the book was a bit unrealistic, because it has her start learning Spanish from Rogelia and then becoming fluent by the end of the book (in less than a year!) even though she doesn't speak it at home. I liked Fern's activism. She was very passionate about environmental issues and always spoke her mind. She frustrated me sometimes because she worried over things that were (I thought) unnecessary to worry about because if she had only asked for help, she wouldn't be so confused! Xochitl was a good character too. She's struggling to get over her sister's death and I thought the parts in the book where she tries to use magic or any other way possible, to get in touch with her sister were touching. It made you wonder: if someone you loved died and you had magical powers, how far would you go to see/talk to them again?
I also enjoyed reading all of Rogelia's Spanish dichos (sayings). I'd never heard of any of them and I thougt they were very wise. I'm really going to try and take to heart "Al vivo la hogaza y al muerto, la mortaja. We must live by the living, not by the dead."
You can see the book trailer here
Rogelia's House of Magic was a good book to read. It's a nice story of a strong friendship (there's hardly any romance and that's refreshing) between 3 Latinas, which is a rare subject in books. It left room for a sequel, but I don't think one is forthcoming. 7th grade and up.