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Truth and Salsa by Linda Lowery
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Truth and Salsa

by Linda Lowery

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Lowery, Linda. Truth and Salsa. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 2009 (multicultural: realistic fiction)

Written for children in grades 4-7, Linda Lowery’s Truth and Salsa is an excellent way to introduce children to elements of Mexican culture while, at the same time, exposing children to the unfortunate but common experience of a child dealing with a broken family. When the parents of 12 year old Hayley Flynn (the main character) separate, she’s sent to live in Mexico with her grandmother. She makes friends with a girl named Lili, and they go on to have a series of exciting experiences, including solving a mystery about a local ghost ('la fantasma'), and being cast as extras in a Hollywood movie. The story is actually very realistic and so are the characters. Lowery does a fantastic job describing the cultural scenery and local town festivals. When the main character Hayley discovers that the villagers who work in the U.S. cannot pay their way back home to Mexico, she writes a bunch of emails to help fix the situation. In the end, the villagers finally reunite with their family members. In this way the story also exposes children to the struggles of many Mexican immigrants who commonly migrate to the states in order to find work to support their families at home. The story is especially beneficial for young girls who will be able to identify with Hayley’s feelings as a young girl who, although she struggles with the pain of her broken family, nevertheless manages to accomplish much good in behalf of others.
  PatrickNavas | Aug 8, 2010 |
Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for TeensReadToo.com

Hayley (or Margarita, as she'll be calling herself now) is a twelve-year-old girl from Michigan, and she's (rightfully) afraid she'll stick out in Mexico. See, Haley's mother has been having some problems and her dad left, so she's being sent to live with her rather eccentric grandmother in San Miguel, Mexico, for six months. Sure, she's excited, but also more than a little nervous. Her Spanish could use some work, she's pale and freckly, and she has no idea what people wear in Mexico! Not to mention, she'll miss her mom and her friends.

Mexico turns out to be fun, though. She meets a new friend, Lili, lives in a house that may or may not be haunted, celebrates with the whole town on holidays (which are way more often than they are in the United States), and gets to be a movie extra! It's not all fun and games, though. Living in the real Mexico (meaning: not a resort in Cancun) means seeing the real Mexican problems, too: Lili's dad and some of the other men from the village work in the United States to send money home, but they run into trouble when their employer cheats them out of their pay.

TRUTH AND SALSA is an absorbing, original coming-of-age story taking place against the beautiful backdrop of Mexico. The colorful cast of characters populating this novel will quickly endear themselves to readers. TRUTH AND SALSA is a quick, well put-together, and engaging read. Those who pick it up will love Hayley and her adventures, and be introduced to a little bit of Mexican culture in the process! ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
Mexican History, Spanish Phases, what Mexico really looks and feels like when living there, and the adventures of a 12 yr. Old girl from Kalamazoo Michigan. How much more could you ask for to capture the interest of middle school readers?

Linda Lowry had done an excellent job of showing Mexico through the eyes of this young girl with all the colors, scents, and sounds that happen in a small Mexican town that she has moved into with her eccentric Grandma. Haley Margaret “Margarita” has to make a quick transition from Kalamazoo to San Miguel when her father leaves the family, and her mother has a nervous breakdown. The last place she wants to be is Mexico with a Grandma that she really doesn’t know that well. Little does she know how much her life will change, and how she will fall in love with the culture, colors, and the Mexican people. She makes friends almost immediately with the next-door neighbor, Lili. Her Grandma has wonderful stucco, round three-story house that is right out of the fairytales. There is a bit of a mystery woven into the story, but really the engaging aspect is the portrayal of how the people of San Miguel live, how they celebrate their culture and the beauty of the land.

I think all kids will benefit from this beautiful depiction of Mexico. It will make children from that land feel a new pride and make children here want to experience the adventure of travel as well. Ms. Lowry also handles the discussion of migrant farm workers from Mexico with a lot of heart and understanding and a perspective that students from the U. S. may not have heard before. I will highly recommend this book to all my middle school students. ( )
  Donura1 | May 21, 2008 |
Hayley Flynn leaves Michigan to live with her grandmother in Mexico while her mother receives treatment for depression. In a crowded plot, Hayley learns about the plight of Mexican immigrants, comes to terms with her parents' divorce, and recognizes herself as an artist. The writing and character development are not strong enough to support so many narrative strands. Category: Intermediate Fiction. 2006, Peachtree, 177pp, 14.95. Ages 9 to 12. Rating: 5: Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality.
  Junep | Feb 26, 2008 |
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Having moved temporarily from Michigan to live with her grandmother in Mexico, twelve-year-old Hayley tries to sort out her feelings about her parents' separation while also helping some townsmen who have run into trouble while working in the United States.… (more)

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