Disclaimer: This book review is my personal opinion and not a paid book review.
I want you to stop and think for a minute – what would you do for your family? Would you march across the dangerous, wasteland of a desert with no shoes, no food, no water – only the clothes on your back- to save their life? This is exactly what twelve-year-old Petra had to do to keep her family alive.
Who is Petra’s family?
Petra is traveling with and responsible for her younger sister, Amelia, who is six years old, and her little brother, Luisito, who is eleven months old. She also has her Abuelita who is elderly with bad knees but strong in knowledge and spirit. Her mama died eleven months earlier during childbirth. Her papa, although he is alive, had to join the Federal army or face execution. He has been gone for six months. His last parting words to Petra were for her to promise to take care of their family.
How can a twelve-year-old girl keep her family safe?
Petra and her family are in their home in Esperanza when the nasty, evil Federal soldiers come to their town. They steal, they murder, they burn. They are looking for young men to force them to join their cause and they will kill any rebels who go against them. When they hear a rumor of Petra’s fourteen-year-old cousin, Pablo, at their house they come in and burn their house to the ground. They are forced to flee to the desert with nothing but the clothes on their back to go to a destination that is unknown.
The desert is brutal!
With no food, no water, no shoes, and only the clothes on their back, they head north. They make their way to a church that is a safe haven for them. They get much-needed food, water, rest, and relief from the heat. Petra’s dream is to one day attend school and learn to read and write. This is where Petra meets Adeline. She is a young girl whose parents are American. Her dad is back in America and she and her mom are trying to get to him. During their time together, she teaches Petra the letters in her name and how to write them. Word comes that the Federals are on their way and Adeline begs Petra to go with her to America to go to school and live in freedom. As much as Petra would love to do that, she refuses to leave her family.
Could Petra become a rebel soldier?
After a couple of days of no food, no water, and a whole lot of frustration, Petra breaks down and it takes Abuelita to calm her down and makes her connect back to nature. When she does she is led to a dry creek that turned into a waterhole that leads them to a camp of Revolutionaries, rebel soldiers fighting for freedom in Mexico. They are welcomed with open arms and given food, water, coffee, and medicines.
They make friends and this is where Petra meets Marietta, a woman soldier for the rebel army. She urges Petra to join the army. She will earn a lot of money, fight for freedom, and possibly find her papa, but it will also mean having to leave her family. Petra has decided to follow her heart and join the army when an attack causes her to press on northward with her family to America.
Will Petra and her family make it to America?
Petra and her family finally made it to Piedras Negras. This place was known for its black coal and its bridge that crosses over to America. There are thousands of people trying to cross that bridge and it is like a punch in the gut when Petra finds out how much it costs to cross over to America. Petra could work for a year and not make that much money, but they don’t have that kind of time because the Federal soldiers are coming to kill everyone they see who opposes their beliefs.
Petra knows her only hope for life for her and her family is to get across that bridge to the land of the red, white, and blue flag. Can Petra find a way to get them across to the land of freedom? Will the Federal soldiers come and kill everyone trying to cross? Will Petra ever be reunited with her papa? Read this incredible, fast-paced, true story of Petra and her love and strength and her bravery!
What I Love About This Book!
From the first page, Petra grabs your heart and doesn’t let go, not even when the book ends. Her bravery, her strength, her loyalty, and her love are all the things that make her so endearing. She will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. It is also easy to see that she gathers her strength from her mama, her papa, and her Abuelita. It is also easy to see that Amelia gets these same traits from Petra. I loved cheering for them and my heart stopped when they face danger.
I read this book as I sat in my air-conditioned house with an abundance of food and water, clothes, and shoes. My heart broke page after page as I read of the boils and blisters, cuts, and scratches from head to toe that they had to endure. Alda Dobbs did an amazing job of describing all of the hardships they endured. When she talked about how dry their mouths were, I had to stop and get a drink because I felt her pain.
This book was published in September of last year and I was given this book to read and review. I read it within a couple of days but I failed to get a review written because this past school year took a toll on me and I never got the review written. This book never got shoved to the back of the bookcase because I knew I had to review it. I did not want to miss my chance to let everyone know how amazing this book is. Please, do not miss reading this incredible book. And when you fall in love with Petra as I did, you will be happy to know that her story doesn’t end with this book. The Other Side of the River will be released in September of this year. Watch for my review of this one and for a giveaway!
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is inspired by the author’s great-grandmother, Juanita Martinez. She and her family had to escape their burning village in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution. They crossed the scorching desert by foot and reached the border town of Piedras Negras, Coahuila only to be denied entry into the United States.
My Favorite Quotes!
“Keep busy, keep moving, and you’ll keep worry at bay.”
“Always be grateful for what you have. The day you take things for granted, your heart will swell with poison.”
“That’s how diamonds are born,” Papa had often explained. “When a piece of coal gets squeezed very hard for a very long time, it becomes a diamond. And you know something else, Petra? It’s the same with people. When life’s big problems squeeze you hard, you grow stronger. You grow up to shine like a diamond.”
“But dreams like yours are barefoot dreams. They’re like us barefoot peasants and indios – they’re not meant to go far. Be content with what you have.”
“Knowing to read and write is like riches, Petra,” said Abuelita, “you can’t take them to the afterlife. But bravery and principles of truth and generosity, now those are treasures that’ll stay with you long after you’re gone. They’ll help guide your children and your children’s children, in any wilderness.
“When life puts you in a hole, the only way out is through hard work.”
“When I asked how people could be so happy in the midst of war, I was told that life was short, especially in combat, and the chance to come together as a family and celebrate both life and death was always embraced.”