Review: Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Publication Date: October 20, 2012

Odilia and her sisters are swimming when they come across a dead body. Together they decide to return him to his home - back across the border in Mexico.

With a scattered plan, an old car, and characters from mythology showing up, the girls realize that there's more to this journey than they might realize. As they fight monsters and make their way through Mexico, the girls' relationships with each other are tested, as well as their determination to make it home.

Date Read: December 10, 2018

Here we have the very last book that I read for my Young Adult Literature class, so you can be happy that I'm finally done with all of this.

By the time we got to this last book, I was really done with The Odyssey and all the re-tellings we'd read. The only one I had enjoyed was Percy Jackson, and that was because I had already read it before and loved it. I was more than ready to be done with the re-tellings, and that was probably one of the bigger reasons why I didn't really like this book all that much.

Right off the bat, I was really annoyed by all the sisters and the way they argued with each other. Being the older sister in my family, I found it frustrating to read about their dumb arguments for pages on end. If they were arguments for good reason or to further the plot, I could have understood more, but it was mostly pointless. They spent so much time arguing that I think the book could have lost about 50 pages if they just stopped arguing. I get that it was supposed to depict a realistic sibling relationship, but so much of it was just the same argument in circles without getting anywhere.

More than anything, I was annoyed by the characters because they felt so immature. One of them kept crying even though she was ten, and refused to act her age. It was so frustrating to spend 355 pages with them when I just wanted to knock some sense into each of the sisters. Not only were their attitudes and behavior irritating, it also felt extremely childish and minuscule in comparison to a problem like having a dead body in the car as they drove across the US-Mexico border.

Which brings me to my next point - it was a stupid decision to bring the man back to Mexico. Who seriously looks at a dead man and decides to bring him across the border by stealing a car from their family AND leaving without telling their mother? It adds to the list of reasons why these girls are so immature and frustrating. Their choice to bring this dead man home led to so many other problems that they caused for other people and for their mom.

On top of that, I felt like the use of the mythological figures, both Greek and Azteca, were more sloppy than anything. There was no established magic system with rules, so anything could happen as long as the author wished it to be so. One of my classmates said that this is common for Latin magical realism because the rules were different and it fit within the genre for magic to be more loosely guided. That may be true, but this book didn't even feel like a it was a good use of magical realism within that context. The magic felt like it was a convenient excuse of sloppy writing and a simple solution to otherwise huge plot holes. It felt like the author used magic to solve a lot of the problems in the book instead of creating a solution by herself. The magic was so convenient and so unbound by any kind of rule that I had a really hard time accepting that any of it was even possible.

The existence of mythological figures also really confused me because it felt like I was expected to know exactly who they all were with little to no explanation. Sometimes there was some explanation because the younger siblings didn't know the stories and legends, but other than that, mythological figures appeared and disappeared with little reason and no bounds within the laws of magic.

The plot also felt really dumb. I couldn't really tell what the point of the book was when it felt like we were switching between so many big plot points abruptly. We move from one thing to another with such little transition that it felt like I was reading multiple books in one, jumping from one to another because someone was forcing me to switch books whenever they pleased. It felt like there were too many things being crammed into one book, and they were all important things that the author wanted to touch on, so there was just a lot of switching of topics.

The only reason why I'm leaving this at 3 stars because I respect that the author was incorporating Azetca mythology, which is rarely talked about or represented. It was a nice change, and it was interesting to read about.

By the end of the book, I was so done with everything that the final plot twist almost made me throw the book across the room. Actually...there were several other times in which I almost threw the book across the room. But this particular plot twist felt so forced that I could not handle it anymore. I was entirely done with the story.

Odilia was the oldest, and the story was from her POV, which I have to say that I appreciated. That being said, she was a really frustrating character because it felt like she only partially thought things through and was so quick to believe the magical people she was suddenly seeing. She was also really awful at taking care of her sisters and forcing them to make responsible decisions.

Juanita was such a know-it-all and probably the most irresponsible out of all the girls cause she was the one who insisted on crossing the border with the dead man. No matter what happened, she couldn't see the reason in it. Despite all that, she was supposed to be the smart one of the five girls.

The twins were so obsessed with themselves that they could have disappeared from the book and I would not have gained or missed anything. They just spent their time obsessing over their desire for fame and their appearances that they served little to no purpose. They might have been useful at one point in the story, but there was literally only once instance in which they were useful.

And then we have the youngest, whose name I honestly don't even remember. But for a ten-year old, she was a huge crybaby and so incredibly immature. It felt more like she was five or six, just from the way she was acting.

3 stars. It was my professor's favorite book, but this just didn't do it for me. I have too many issues with it to recommend it to anyone.

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