Review: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Happy Monday All!

It’s Day 1 of my “Rick Riordan Presents Review Week”! If you are unfamiliar with Rick Riordan, he is the writer of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, the Heroes of Olympus series, the Kane Chronicles (another series), The Trials of Apollo (series, yep), and the Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard series. Whew. All of these are middle-grade books dealing with, you guessed it, mythology. Needless to say, I LOVE them.

Now, to Rick Riordan Presents. This is a book imprint from Disney-Hyperion that emphasizes the mythologies of various cultures and countries and run along a similar vein to Riordan’s own books. I LOVE these too. I have been on a binge lately and decided rather than space my reviews out, why not dedicate a week to some of these books? I have not read all of them yet, but that just means more material for another week in the future!

Okay, Paola Santiago. While I have read a few in this imprint before, this is the one that launched my current binge. Paola Santiago and the Trail of Tears, by Tehlor Kay Meija introduces Paola, a 12-year old who is obsessed with space and who staunchly prefers science over her mother’s superstitions. Although she has grown up with the Mexican legend of La Llorona, among others, she is now consistently embarrassed by her mother’s stories and insistence that Pao and her friends stay away from the nearby Gila river. Pao chooses to push aside the stories and warnings her mother gives, choosing to be steered only by science, until one day, when she is supposed to meet her friends Emma and Dante by the river to stargaze, and Emma doesn’t show up. Paola and Dante are propelled into the world of Pao’s (literal) nightmares and she has to start to come to terms with the fact that maybe the legends are real after all.

I enjoyed this one so much. I couldn’t put it down. (This will be a theme this week.) Paola is fierce, intelligent, stubborn, determined, and more than a little angry. Paola deals with a lot in this story–poverty, racism, a missing friend, shifting friend dynamics, the want to rebel against her mother…but I think the most interesting of all is how her science-loving, analytical way of thinking is forced to come to terms with the idea of the supernatural. Her struggle to learn to accept that both are possible at the same time is fascinating. Plus…she is just really cool. I loved the setting–both mundane and supernatural. Meija makes it all feel so real and original. I had some slight background knowledge of the Mexican monsters/myths/legends mentioned in this story, but it was nice to get so much more detail and information. Also…who is her dad?!?!

This first book in the series came out this past August, and I believe the second comes out next Spring or Summer so the wait shouldn’t be terribly long. If you are a parent/teacher/librarian/educator working with middle grade students, definitely pick this one up. If you are a fan of Riordan’s books, pick this one up.

Until tomorrow, keep reading! 🙂


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