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TO BE MAYA by Claudia Recinos Seldeen


by Claudia Recinos Seldeen

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9785-9620-7
Publisher: West 44 Books

A fast-paced novel in verse touches on relatable teen struggles.

Maya was born in the United States after her parents emigrated from Guatemala. Now a sophomore in high school, she and her mom live alone, without the father who left years ago and whom she can’t remember. Gemma, Maya’s wealthy Cuban American best friend, left their high school to attend a private school, and now Maya struggles to navigate her absence in the face of casual racism from classmates. The third friend in their trio, Andres, has Peruvian and Mexican parents and is grappling with a same-sex crush. Maya is so engrossed in her own romantic interest in a White boy that she overlooks the difficulties her two friends are facing. Friction with her mom comes to a head when Maya is caught lying. Maya is able to recognize and apologize for her shortcomings while also standing up for herself. She voices her frustration with the racism and classism she experiences as well as the ways that Gemma is treated differently because of her light complexion. The three friends each face very different challenges and offer different perspectives, highlighting the diversity of both Latin American diaspora and individual experiences. The brief page count and attractive spot art should encourage reluctant readers. Spanish words are italicized, something that may support non-Spanish-speaking struggling readers.

A strong voice and lyrical prose center the experiences of a Guatemalan American teen.

(photo credits) (Verse novel. 13-18)