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Alba’s mother has finally given up on her. Why it was now–not the first time she got detention, or the time she cut off all her hair–Alba doesn’t know. Maybe her father insisted. He gave up on Alba a long time ago, and her mother wouldn’t dare contradict him.
But whatever the reason, Alba’s mother puts her on a plane to Barcelona, to live with the grandmother she barely knows in a country where she doesn’t even speak the language. She expects to hate it, but when she arrives, she discovers that her grandmother is compassionate and loving–a complete difference from her cold and distant mother. And when she meets her mom’s former best friend, a baker, Alba discovers two things: first, baking bread is a great way to soothe her anxiety; and second, her mom might have been a completely different person before her dad came along. As Alba settles into her new life in Barcelona, she finally begins to come to terms with her father’s abuse and to rebuild the broken relationship with her mother.
Spousal abuse is a heavy, heartbreaking, and (unfortunately) necessary topic for children’s collections–for the many children who have witnessed such abuses and every child who needs to build empathy for people with those experiences. For her middle grade readers, Guerrero softens the potentially disturbing subject matter by removing Alba–and soon her mother–from the environment where the abuse occurred, limiting the scenes of abuse to memories and devoting the entire action of the plot to healing, rebuilding relationships, and forging a new life in a safe community. Highly recommend for older middle grade readers who enjoy character-driven realistic fiction in rich settings and don’t mind some heavier themes.