A Brooklyn teenager's summer plans take an unwelcome turn when her mother sends her away for a year in this chatty, fluent tale, a real change of pace from Chambers's angry, brutal memoir, Mama's Girl (1996). Marisol and Magdalena, inseparable since birth, look forward to a delicious summer followed by a triumphant tour through their last year in junior high. It's not to be; despite pleas and tears, Marisol finds herself on a plane to Panama City when her mother decides to attend nursing school full-time. Born in the US, Marisol knows her mother's homeland only through stories and old photographs; her initial apprehension evaporates in the warm welcome she receives from her abuela, and in her instant acceptance at school. Both in Brooklyn and in Panama, Marisol is rich in friends and relatives, all (but for one hostile cousin) loving and supportive; with the help of Ann, a neighbor, and RubÆ’n, her first boyfriend, she loses her initial shyness as quickly as she improves her shaky Spanish. Magda remains a part-time character, and some subplots--notably, Marisol's carefully developed but suddenly abandoned determination to find her estranged father--are left hanging, but Marisol moves between her two cultures with ease, and her Panama is a sunnier place than the tense, divided country of Adele Griffin's Rainy Season (1996).