Each Tiny Spark is the latest novel by Latinx writer Pablo Cartaya. After reading one of his other books, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, I was looking forward to seeing how he would handle a female main character in a book about embracing one’s unique heritage, talents, and idiosyncrasies.
The main character, Emilia, is a pretty standard 12-year-old girl. She is an easily relatable character and middle grade audiences will likely find a lot of common ground on which to connect. She struggles with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I appreciated that the author spent time and space in the book describing what it feels like for someone with this disorder as it really made you understand her character a bit better.
The book has a pretty straightforward plotline and is easy to follow. You don’t get lost in the descriptions of the settings or in extraneous wording that doesn’t add to the story. The one real drawback for me was that there was a lot of Spanish throughout the book that was not translated. You can pick up from context or rephrasing by the next character the general meaning, but as a non-Spanish speaker I felt I missed out on a lot of rich detail. Grab some Google translate if you don’t want to miss a beat.
This is a good middle grade read, but older young adult readers and even high school students may find this one a little lacking. Middle school teachers may find this book a great springboard for discussing current hot political topics in a way that middle grade readers will understand.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Kokila
Profanity/Language: 1 religious exclamation.
Violence/Gore: Character receives and removes large splinter with minimal blood.
Mature Subject Matter:
Socioeconomic and racial conflict; immigration; social injustice; death of a parent; anxiety, ADHD; post-traumatic stress disorder; deployment.
Alcohol / Drug Use: