Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
2022 Pura Belpré Honor Book NYPL Best Book of 2021 Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection NPR Best Book of 2021 Based on a true story, the tale of one girl's perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution.
"Wrenching debut about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on."―Booklist, starred review
"Blazes bright, gripping readers until the novel's last page."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Vital and perilous and hopeful."―Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna's mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left―her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito―until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.
Each night when Petra closes her eyes, she holds her dreams close, especially her long-held desire to learn to read. Abuelita calls these barefoot dreams: "They're like us barefoot peasants and indios―they're not meant to go far." But Petra refuses to listen. Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border―a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.
"Dobbs' wrenching debut, about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on, illuminates the harsh realities of war, the heartbreaking disparities between the poor and the rich, and the racism faced by Petra and her family. Readers will love Petra, who is as strong as the black-coal rock she carries with her and as beautiful as the diamond hidden within it."―Booklist, starred review
This was such a powerful and beautiful book. Petra's name means rock, and she is the rock that holds her family together through the tumultuous events of the Mexican Revolution. When her father is taken away, and forced to fight for the Federales, Petra and her family must flee to find safety in the chaos of the revolution. All Petra wants is to be able to learn to read and write, which her Abuelita calls "barefoot dreams" because as barefoot peasants, they cannot expect to be able to rise above their status. That's only for wealthy people. But Petra believes otherwise.
I loved Petra - she is such a fantastic heroine. She is strong and determined, despite all the roadblocks in her way. Her dreams of being able to learn to read and write and better herself seem to be dashed at every turn. When will they ever be safe enough to even have time to learn? This story has a lot to say about the wretchedness of war and the importance of literacy.
The story is dark and often heartbreaking as it deals with the ravages of war and poverty, but through Petra it's all tinged with hopefulness. The writing is beautiful and the story is fast-paced. I couldn't put this book down.
Because of the subject matter, I'd say this is best for ages 10+.
Other Similar Books
Other suggestions on the subject of the Mexican Revolution.
- Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna (by: Dobbs, Alda P., UMG)
- The Other Side of the River (by: Dobbs, Alda P., UMG)
Other suggestions on the subject of the Mexican Immigration.