by Daniel Jose Older
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
The older white ladies in my book club generally did not like this book. One of the big obstacles was the language – both the “urbanness” and the Spanish made it hard for them to get into. On top of that, the action was hard to follow, and they just didn’t get the point of the shadowshapers themselves. To round it off, they felt there were too many characters.
Well, I had no problems with the Spanish, and the rest of the language made sense to me. It did take me a couple of tries to get into, but once I did I enjoyed it. I agreed that sometimes the action was hard to follow, so I ended up re-reading parts to make sure I wasn’t missing things, but when it slowed down and the characters talked to each other and revealed big important things, I was right there with them. I thought it was paced nicely, revealing just enough at the right times to not give everything away but keep the tension perfectly. I was right with Sierra when she was distracted by thoughts of a potential traitor in her group of confidantes, and then perplexed when that wasn’t the case.
A fellow book clubber said that Sierra’s big extended family and community made sense to her, being from a big Catholic family and working in a school full of kids from big-family, close-community type backgrounds. For my part, I didn’t so much mind that I couldn’t follow every single step or recap it very clearly for the group. I did very much like that the evil outsider villain-guy, a white man who infiltrated their community and tried to take over power, was a strong metaphor for Sierra, her community, and people of color generally.