Days of the Dead by Kersten Hamilton - Book Review

Friday, September 14, 2018

cover of Days of the Dead by Kersten Hamilton

Glorieta Espinosa doesn’t hate that Papi married Alice, the nice white woman from Texas, or the fact that he’s happy again after years of mourning Mamá. But she hates that the urn containing Mamá’s ashes disappeared into a drawer the day Alice moved in.

She hates that there even is an urn—if only her Tía Diosonita, the town patrona, would overlook the Catholic Church’s strict condemnation of suicide, Mamá could be buried with her family and her community.

If everything about Glory’s life is going to change, then she wants one thing to go her way: this year, she wants to greet Mamá’s spirit during los Días de los Muertos—something that’s only possible if Mamá’s ashes can be buried. So with the help of her best friend Mojo and her prankster cousin Riley, Glory sets out to change her Tía’s mind. To do so, she’ll have to learn to let hate go—and to love the people who stand in her way.

In lovely prose that sparkles with magical undertones, author Kersten Hamilton weaves a tender story about grief, faith, immigration, and the redemptive power of love. (Goodreads)

There are many things going on in this book, but for the most part, it works. The main focus is on Glory and how she is adjusting to her new family. After the death of her mother, her father remarried a woman named Alice who has two children from a previous marriage. After their father unexpectedly drops them off to stay with their mother for a while, Glory finds herself being forced to share a room with her stereotypically evil stepsister. On the surface, Lillith is a bully and Glorieta will do anything to protect her friends from her. On top of the drama at home, Glory is also trying to come up with a plan to convince her Tia Diosonita to allow her mother to rest in the family camposanto in time for Los Dias de los Muerto. Days of the Dead allows us to stay close by her side as she tries to navigate this rough time in her life.

One of the biggest pet peeves when it comes to books and movies is the usage of overused and incorrect stereotypes, so I was a bit annoyed when a few characters were mostly defined by them. There is also a situation that takes place in the middle of the story that, while timely, came off as a forced attempt to make the book political. Outside of those complaints, I loved this book. The amount of growth that Glory goes through from page one to the end is amazing (but still believable) and the humor, (especially between Glory and Mateo) is hilarious.

Upon finishing Days of the Dead the first thing that popped into my head was “this was beautiful”. I plan on rereading this one several times and definitely think it belongs in the category of middle-grade books that would be perfect for adults.

* I received a digital ARC of this book to review.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Book Information: Goodreads

Published: August 7th, 2018

Kersten Hamilton: Goodreads, Official Website

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