IF I COULD FLY by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Kirkus Star

IF I COULD FLY

Age Range: 11 - 15

KIRKUS REVIEW

Sixteen years after the publication of the Pura Belpré–winning An Island Like You (1995), Cofer returns to the characters of her New Jersey barrio with an affecting treatment of one girl's coming-of-age. Doris wakes up one morning not that long after her quinceañera to find her mother gone. Claribel, a singer with a heart condition, has returned to her own mother in Puerto Rico, leaving Doris home with her usually-absent musician father. Left mostly to herself, Doris acts out: She wears Claribel's glamorous but inappropriate clothing to school, she lets her grades slip and she's rude to her father's new Jewish–Puerto Rican girlfriend. Doris' usual sources of peace have been disrupted. She still cherishes the pigeons on her apartment building's roof, but one is injured. She cares for the pigeons with her aging former babysitter, but Doña Iris is increasingly senile. She reunites with an estranged school friend, only to find herself the suspect in a shooting. In mellifluous prose liberally sprinkled with Spanish, narrator Doris tries on personalities, trying to make sense of herself. Is she a singer, a psychic, a pigeon keeper? Is she a friend or a daughter, a New Jerseyite or a Puerto Rican, a neighbor or a dreamer? An extemporized high-school musical appropriately provides a gently chaotic climax. A familiar story of mother/daughter relationships delivered lyrically, simply and inspirationally. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: May 24th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-33517-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011




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