- Milagros: Girl from Away
Milagros loves her life on the unmarked island paradise of Las Brisas in the Carib-bean, even though she is teased for having a father who ran off with pirates. Her rebellious streak turns out to be as strong as her father’s, and when her island is attacked by jealous neighbors, it is her tenacity, and a bit of magic that her mother has passed along to her, that saves her; she runs away, drifts out to sea, boards her father’s ship, refuses to become a pirate like him, and drifts away again, this time to [End Page 163] be washed up on the shore of an island off the coast of Maine. There she develops a special friendship with a Latina woman on the island, and together they craft a new family amidst the gentle rhythms of island life occasionally marred by the intrusion of ghost pirates trying to work malevolent designs on the girl who escaped them. The many and varied elements of this richly inventive story keep it from nesting easily into a genre category; starting as a contemporarily realistic school story about a headstrong character who doesn’t fit in with her peers, it quickly drifts into magical realism, and it’s haunted throughout by a sense of grief and loss that is sometimes soft with longing and sometimes violently assertive. It’s even an immigrant saga in its own odd way, as Milagros is initially greeted with suspicion because of her differences and the simple fact that she is from Away; she struggles to maintain her cultural distinctiveness, she’s as much haunted by the violence of her past as she is soothed by its gentler memories, and she ultimately finds a place in her new world with a person who shares some of her cultural traits as well as her status as outsider. Give this to readers who are looking for something original, something wistful, and something strange, in a good way.