Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Publishing for this free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is out 8/3!
I’m so excited to talk about this one! I read it in a day because I didn’t want to put it down.
(From Goodreads): Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.
Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.
Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?
After reading and loving the Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book in this series, I was so excited to read the second!! It didn’t disappoint. I think Paola is one of my favorite characters in the Rick Riordan Presents line (although they are all SO wonderful) and I felt she grew so much as a character–both in terms of understanding herself and those around her. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that not only is she dealing with the supernatural, but she is dealing with very real and relatable “mundane” problems and the transitions and anxiety that come with starting middle school. Pao deals with shifting friendships and loss and the whole time I just thought of my own 7th graders and the stories they would share with me about their changing friendship dynamics throughout school. I absolutely love the descriptions of the “monsters” and creatures from Mexican folklore…some of which I don’t want to dwell on too much because I don’t want to end up with nightmares like Pao! Without giving anything away, Pao is still dealing with some of the supernatural issues from the first book, but things ramp up much faster in this book.
I love that in this second book, Mejia really takes the time to allow Paola to discover/understand who she is and the kind of person she wants to be even in the face of adversity and others trying to shake her.
If you are a fan of middle-grade stories and the RRP line, I absolutely recommend! As always, please read the series in order; the first book is called Paola Santiago and the River of Tears. This will definitely end up in my classroom!