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The Moonlit Vine

by Elizabeth Santiago

Fourteen-year-old Taína just learned that she is a descendant of a long line of strong Taíno women, but will knowing this help her bring peace and justice to her family and community?

 

Despite her name, Taína Perez doesn't know anything about her Taíno heritage, nor has she ever tried to learn. After all, how would ancient Puerto Rican history help with everything going on? There's constant trouble at school and in her neighborhood, her older brother was kicked out of the house, and with her mom at work, she's left alone to care for her little brother and aging grandmother. It's a lot for a 14-year-old to manage.

But life takes a wild turn when her abuela tells her she is a direct descendant of Anacaona, the beloved Taíno leader, warrior, and poet, who was murdered by the Spanish in 1503. Abuela also gives her an amulet and a zemi and says that it's time for her to step into her power like the women who came before her. But is that even possible? People like her hardly make it out of their circumstances, and the problems in her home and community are way bigger than Taína can manage. Or are they?

 

A modern tale with interstitial historical chapters, The Moonlit Vine brings readers a powerful story of the collective struggle, hope, and liberation of Puerto Rican and Taíno peoples.

Published by Lee and Low. Also available in Spanish, Claro de luna

Reviews

* "A beautiful ode to Puerto Rican history...Santiago's writing sparkles, even as it draws upon hard realities that Puerto Ricans can face in their everyday lives and sense of cultural identity. Filled with arresting prose and historical stories, this novel brings Puerto Rican history into the present, mixing in realistic themes to which most readers will relate." -- Booklist, starred review

* "Readers will cheer for the bold, resourceful protagonist as she uses her newfound power to bring everyone she cares about together ... Mayle's evocative black-and-white art and interstitial chapters centering Ty's ancestors through the centuries round out the contemporary storyline ... Deeply moving, beautifully written, and inspiring." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Mayle's elegant b&w art appears throughout and historical interstitials center Ty's forebears as they endured harrowing events such as genocide and colonization. Via evocative third-person prose, Santiago proudly showcases Taíno culture in this empowering debut that is at once educational, realistic, and speculative." -- Publishers Weekly

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