Apolonia Flores, nicknamed Lina, struggles with her father's concept that "books are your best friends" ("Los amigos mejores son libros"). That is not true in Lina's life, and she resents that her father, who shares the sorrow of her mother's death the previous year, buries himself in books, thus distancing himself not only from sadness but also from his daughter. Luckily, though, Lina has a lot going on in her life. For one thing, she has her hobby: socks. Her dresser is divided into drawers for her daily wear socks (organized by color and style), socks without partners, socks with holes, and "sock heaven" (outgrown and otherwise useless socks). Lina is creative with her socks, fashioning earmuffs, wallets and more from them.
Lina's very best friend, Vanessa, lives just across the street. Their relationship has gotten a bit more complicated lately. Lina doesn't care that Vanessa is gorgeous and she is not. But she does mind that Vanessa does everything first, and when Vanessa's relationship with her first boyfriend progresses rapidly, Lina is not always thrilled with her own standing in Vanessa's life.
Speaking of boyfriends, Lina has a love interest, too. The very nice Luis reciprocates her fascination with him. Luis is cute and smart. His stutter (usually) doesn't distract Lina one bit from his tremendous potential.
Vanessa's mother is another in a cast of well-drawn characters. Ms. Cantu's bitterness about her husband leaving her has manifested itself in a constant marathon of cascarone making. One of the many pleasures of CONFETTI GIRL is a plentiful array of fascinating bits about Lina's culture, and we learn that cascarones are decorated empty eggshells filled with confetti. Although most people make them for Easter, Ms. Cantu makes heaps of them year-round. Vanessa has decided that she and Lina will manipulate their parents into a love match, but Lina is decidedly reluctant about the whole caper. Will their carefully laid plans backfire?
Lina's school life is portrayed in a more balanced fashion than seen in many similar books. Sure, there is a mean person who targets Lina and Luis, but there are a number of compensations. Lina has her friends and the team sports she adores. She delights in what she learns in science class, although she struggles in English class (coincidentally, her father is an English teacher, leading to conflicts). In fact, Lina's problems with academics have serious consequences that lead her to play more of a role she calls being a Hollywood extra --- an insignificant character who is forgettable instead of the sports star and leader role she has enjoyed in the past. However, Lina's struggles in school also lead ultimately to her contemplation, resolution and redemption.
Lina is a likable and realistic main character to whom readers can easily relate. The plot maintains a nice pace, and while Lina has several problems and issues to work through, these subplots never overwhelm or confuse. Spanish proverbs open each chapter, along with their translations --- a delightful addition to a story filled with interesting tidbits of Latin culture. CONFETTI GIRL is a satisfying and enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 1, 2010
- Publication Date: June 1, 2009
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- ISBN-10: 0316029556
- ISBN-13: 9780316029551