Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2012 | Publisher: Lee & Low, 337 pages
About the book:
When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.
With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?
Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.
This month we read Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s second book, “Summer of the Mariposas.” We are big fans of Garcia McCall. In fact, her debut novel “Under the Mesquite” was our very first Book Club Selection. We were so excited when she was honored with the Pura Belpre Award for that book. It is an honor that she truly deserved. Garcia McCall is one of the few Latina authors in the YA genre who also writes from a Latina perspective. Her stories are vividly written as she highlights the Mexican-American culture from the border of Texas. We celebrate Garcia McCall and her writing, and hope to highlight her future endeavors.
Overall, all the readers enjoyed “Summer of the Mariposas.” Unfortunately, we were only able to have one teen contributor since most teens are busy with midterms or papers. At this time of the year it gets increasingly difficult to have teens contribute so we are grateful for whoever can spare the time. All the adults liked the book and we hope that you pick up a copy of “Summer of the Mariposas” and enjoy Garcia McCall’s latest novel as much as we did.
Young Reader Average: B+
Sabil graded the book a B+
“Summer of the Mariposas” is a very interesting book. I really like the different characters in the story. It’s mainly a book about sisterhood and bonding. The way the Garza sisters deal with death in this book is really entertaining. From the first page on, I couldn’t put this book down. It makes me want to re-read this book over and over again.
Adult Reader Average: A-
Jenn graded the book an A
“Summer of the Mariposas” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a fantastic retelling of Homer’s “Odyssey” with Mexican folklore seamlessly interwoven into the story. After the five Garza sisters find a body of a man in the river near their home, they embark on a journey into Mexico to return him to his family. With help from La Llorona and the Aztec goddess Tonantzin, the girls, led by eldest sister Odilia, take on this quest hoping to find a way to repair their fractured family along the way.
I really like that this story was driven by female relationships. There were no love interests, so the story focuses on the Garza sisters and how they interact with each other as they journey into Mexico to complete their quest. It highlights the importance of family and having faith in oneself.
This book meant a lot to me, because the cinco hermanitas reminded me of me and my cousins. We had a similar relationship filled with a lot of love and the occasional conflict. As the oldest, I always felt the need to protect and guide them. It was incredible to read a story that captured elements of my childhood so well. Since I grew up on the US/Mexico border I was familiar with stories about La Llorona and chupacabras, and I loved the way McCall was able integrate these stories into the Odyssey. This was a wonderful, heartwarming story, and I think it’s perfect for young teens and tweens in particular.
Keely graded the book an A
Summer of the Mariposa is a fantastic blend of so many things I adore in literature. Epic story along the lines of The Odyssey inclusive of creatures and characters born in myth and legend, a tale of the bond of sisters and women growing up and growing into themselves and a story of family.
Being a huge fan of mythology and epic stories, this book really really appealed to me. The portrayal of girls on the precipice of becoming women and finding within themselves (especially Odilia) a deep well of strength they didn’t know they possessed was very compelling especially as a woman and the mother of a daughter.
The tie-ins to Mexican and Aztec folklore/mythology and the Hispanic culture made it stand apart from other books about girls becoming women and I appreciated the glimpse into a culture I know very little about (but now I’m compelled to learn a lot more!).
Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s writing is wonderful – so gloriously descriptive that it drew me in quickly and I felt like I was there with the girls as they made their way through the desert. I found it hard to put down and was almost sad when it was over except that I thoroughly enjoyed how all the loose ends were resolved.
Fans of mythology and epics will enjoy the parallels as well as the exploration of the Aztec and Mexican mythos. If you enjoy stories of family and personal growth you’ll be equally enchanted with McCall’s Garza girls and their story.
I was completely enchanted and have passed the book on to my daughter with a glowing recommendation. Definitely worthy of an A.
Diana graded the book a A-
Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s latest novel, “The Summer of the Mariposas” is a truly enjoyable read. In this novel, five sisters, “cinco hermanitas” embark on a journey to return the body of a dead man that they found in their favorite swimming hole, back to Mexico to his family. Along the way, the girls encounter magical beings that are part of Mexican lore and legend. They encounter “La Llorona”, a witch, owls, and “el chupacabras”.
Overall, what is most enjoyable is the fact that the Garza sisters grow in the process of their journey. They grow closer to each other and in the process become stronger girls.
Having lived in Texas years ago, I am familiar with the stories of La Llorona and el chupacabras. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, seeing those mythical creatures come to life.
Sandie graded the book an A-
So many YA books that are homages to classics are quite obvious with their modernizations, but Guadalupe Garcia McCall inventively turns Homer’s “Odyssey” into a present-day tale of five Mexican-American sisters (cinco hermanitas) who must overcome obstacle after obstacle to fulfill their mission of returning a corpse they find floating in the Rio Grande to his home across the border in Mexico.
In order to get home, the sisters — led by their oldest sister Odilia — face a series of menacing creatures like lechuzas (creepy owls), a sirena (siren) and the misunderstood chupacabras. Garcia McCall immerses the reader in Mexican and Aztec folklore, which is fascinating but may require a visit to the glossary in the back for those not familiar with the terms. With her lyrical writing and a compelling story, “Summer of the Mariposas” offers readers an epic but accessible epic that boils down to the love between sisters and their Mamá.
Amanda graded the book a B+
“The Summer of the Mariposas” is a great example of good multicultural literature. Often it’s difficult for an author to create something that could be classified as such. Many books that claim to be multicultural really only consist of characters of an ethnicity other than white, which can easily be substituted with any type of character. Ms. Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s book contains language, characters and history that are consistent with a Latino background and which cannot be substituted. A person who is not of this ethnic background, could learn something about this culture, through this book. This Odyssey-like tale helps the reader experience the struggles of some Latino families, the role of the father-figure, as well as the importance of family, tradition and cultural legacies.
This book is about five sisters, cinco hermanitas (in the words of the author), who run “wild” until they encounter the body of a dead man and the eldest runs into the path of a supernatural being. Together they journey to Mexico from Texas, to discover this man’s story and run into many mythological obstacles along the way. This adventure takes them closer to not onlyanswers about this man’s past, but about their own family and the love they have for each other.
In the process of this story, the author creatively redefines some traditional Latino myths and legends, giving them a positive twist,as well as interweaves Spanish words and cultural references.
Cara graded the book a B
After five sisters discover a dead man floating in their idyllic swimming spot in the Rio Grande River, the girls begin an odyssey to return the man to his family that takes them on an unexpected journey through the myths of Aztec legend. In the process, the bonds that hold the girls together are further cemented and they discover some unpleasant truths about their own missing father.
This book has a number of elements that should have made it a big hit for me: sisters, complicated paternal relationships, ancient mythology; unfortunately it just didn’t quite hit the mark. I struggled to get into the adventure because I kept saying to myself “no one would ever do that!” whenever one of the girls did something that led them into another harrowing situation. Perhaps if I were more familiar with the legends that were featured in the book, I could have been more invested in the girl’s journey but the constant insertion of mythological creatures felt forced. I needed more
I loved McCall’s first book, “Under the Mesquite,” a lyrical story that had me in tears in several places and while I enjoyed this book, it didn’t have the emotional punch or connection for me. I imagine a younger audience would find this book quite enjoyable because of the simple, fairy tale-like storyline and shallower emotional development.