The Weaver’s Daughter by Sylvia Patience
6th – 14th September
Sometimes people disappear into the North, never heard from again.
When her papá doesn’t return, twelve-year-old Ixchel, a Maya from the Yucatan, resolves to leave home and make her way across the treacherous border into the United States to find him. Chel relies on an inexperienced smuggler and faces unknown dangers in a border tunnel. Frightened but resourceful, Chel’s hope, love for her father, and her dream of going to school drive her to stay the course.
The Weaver’s Daughter was the recipient of the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.
Sylvia Patience lives in Santa Cruz, California with her family. She is a poet and author of four other, as yet unpublished, middle grade children’s novels including “The Double Crossing,” historical fiction about the 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis, and “Wandering Time,” contemporary magical realism about “wandering” with a grandmother with Alzheimer’s.
From beginning to end, I just wanted to give the main character, Chel, a hug and a new home. This book is captivating and dark. It shows the reader an unknown Mayan culture. This twelve-year old girl lives a tragic life. Her mother has a mental illness and doesn’t show her any attention, much less love. Her grandmother loves her, but Chel needs more.
Her mother weaves all the time and then sends Chel to the markets to sell her beautiful products every day, instead of allowing her to attend school. Chel longs to go to school and wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Her father went to the US to work, but hasn’t written in a long time. Chel’s mother still believes the Mayan religion and is very superstitious. After she has a vision of a Mayan goddess, she tells Chel that she must go to the US and find her father.
Her daughter is terrified, but has no choice. Her mother saves up her money and sends her on a plane to meet a smuggler. Chel and her friend Rosa fly to the border where the smuggler promises to get them across to the US. The smuggler and his helper are creepy but kind. When things don’t go well, the girls are left no choice but to go through a tunnel. They can’t open the door to the other side. A trafficker opens the door and says that he will sell them. He tries to throw them in his car.
The girls fight back and then border patrol shows up. Rosa can’t get away and surrenders to them so that she can go home. But, will she make it? Chel runs and runs and falls asleep under a cardboard box. When she wakes up she doesn’t know where she is. Alone in the US with no money and far away from Los Angeles, where her father is supposed to be. What will happen to this twelve-year old girl?
This book has many heavy topics for a middle grade child. It was a very good book but I felt very afraid for the child. She had to deal with things that no child should ever imagine. The sad thing is that this happens in real life. The book makes you think hard about the plight of many innocent people. If your child is to read this book, I would suggest that it is read along with a parent so that they could discuss many of the issues.