The author of I, Juan de Paraja (1965, Newbery Award) describes the pivotal early years of Leona Vicario (1789-1842), revered as a heroine of Mexican independence. At 16, the wealthy, well-educated, but naÃ¯ve Leona was betrothed by her guardian to a Spanish widower many years her senior, only to fall in love, once she had been introduced to society, with AndrÃ‰s Quintana Roo, a young lawyer who was already taking an active part in the movement for independence from Napoleonic Spain. When her guardian learned of her revolutionary sympathies, he placed her under house arrest. Escaping, she traveled in disguise with her old nurse to join Quintana Roo. Unfortunately, though these events, subsequent battles, and Leona's struggle to regain her health after her harrowing experiences are all inherently dramatic, the author's enumeration of them lacks suspense; and while she includes plenty of such authentic details as the books the young people discussed, societal divisions in early 19th-century Mexico, and features of everyday life, neither setting nor characters ever really come to life. A book that falls between two stools -- too distancing for fiction, too embellished for biography -- but that, in the absence of other books about this significant patriot, will be useful in introducing Leona Vicario. Glossary.