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Saturday, March 12, 2011

"The Princess of Las Pulgas"

by C. Lee McKenzie, YA, 2010, 348p, rating=4

"After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie's mother is forced to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move the family to the other side of the tracks--to dreaded Las Pulgas.  At her tough new urban high school, Carlie is nicknamed "Princess" because of her aloof attitude.  But what her classmates don't know is that Carlie isn't aloof; she's in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her.  Meanwhile, her younger brother Keith becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, and even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search for her in the hidden orchard beside their seedy garden apartment complex.  They're met by a rifle-toting cowboy who ejects them at gunpoint from his property.  But when Carlie finds him in the kitchen having coffee with their mom the next day, having found and returned the cat, she begins to realize that in Las Pulgas, nothing is what it seems."  (book's blurb)
The grabbing opening line, Last night I pleaded with Death, but he turned a bony back to me, pushed Hope into the corridor and shut the door.  Now here's a YA that has meaning!  Right from the beginning you knew you were in for a conflict of the heart.  A story of bereavement but more about the gain in the long run.  A careful, soft portrayal of a grieving family's process of loss.  Incorporate a story with culture shock, Othello, and stereotypes and you've got yourself a book that didn't dwell on the grief but rather emphasized on growth and moving forward ...but never forgetting the pain of loss.  A moving read.  Beautifully crafted. 

The cast of characters was awesome.  Each brought substance to the plate.  Their predictability worked for me here.  I liked the classic lesson of not judging by appearance.  I especially enjoyed the lessons of sacrifice, perseverance, and friendship.  Hooray for characters with tenor!  Well done, Ms. McKenzie.

I'm glad I won this book.  Thank you Brandi @Blkosiner's Book Blog for holding the contest.  I had really wanted to win this one.  The title tickled my curiosity (Las Pulgas means fleas in Spanish) and the blurb along with your review gave added interest.


  1. Like that you mentioned that this book didn't dwell on the grief...otherwise it becomes too whiny, right? I will probably also like this book. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad you won my book too. Thanks for the considered review. It's greatly appreciated by this author. :-)


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