Book Review: Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes

Tortilla Sun imageIzzy and her mother have moved more times than she wants to remember. She’s just getting settled again when her mom announces she’s received a research grant to study in Costa Rica and Izzy will be spending the summer with her nana in New Mexico.

Izzy doesn’t know her grandmother very well, and she’s not at all happy about being dumped for a couple of months while her mom is gone. But once she arrives at the small adobe village near Albuquerque, magic starts to happen. As Izzy begins to discover more about her family and herself she begins to feel like she may have finally found a place to call home.

Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes weaves a little magic into the story and a lot of magic into readers as the tale unwinds. Izzy’s nana has a way with tortillas and a way with people as well. The story of Izzy’s parents and her own past slowly comes out in small bites to help her digest it a little bit at a time, and in the process she comes to know and love the people of the village.

Tortilla Sun had me longing to see the Sandia Mountains, feel the warmth of the sun and hear the call of the wind. New Mexico comes as vividly alive as the bright colors worn by many of its people. This book is recommended for ages 9 to 12, but I think girls up to 14 or 15 may enjoy it too. And the moms are likely to be delighted by Izzy’s journey of self-discovery. Issues to discuss include family heritage, ethnic traditions, dealing with grief and finding acceptance.

There’s a recipe in the back for tortillas that I can’t wait to try, and making them could be a fun mother-daughter book club activity. I highly recommend Tortilla Sun. If you want to find out more about the book before choosing it, you can read the first chapter. You can also download discussion questions in PDF form. And you can watch a video of author Cervantes making tortillas with her daughters.

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