Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw, and her little brother Owen have lived with their grandma for most of their lives. They barely remember their mother, Terry, who abandoned them years ago to run off with one of her boyfriends. Needless to say Naomi is surprised when her mother returns one day.
Terry bursts into their lives with nice gifts and nice talk, but Naomi doesn't trust her. She may have changed her name from Terry to Skyla, but her personality hasn't changed much. Skyla wants to take Naomi, but she doesn't like Owen because of his physical deformities. But Naomi doesn't want to leave either her grandmother or her brother, especially if it means being with her mother, whose fickle moods and frequent threats are slightly frightening.
But Skyla has the law on her side, because Naomi and Owen are still her children, so she can probably take them away from their grandmother legally. There is only one option available. Naomi, Owen, and their grandmother set off on a road trip to Mexico, where they hope to find the children's father. All they know about him is that he is a master carver, that he sends large checks marked with no return address, and that at one time he wanted both Naomi and Owen.
“Becoming Naomi León” is an excellent novel. Pam Munoz Ryan has created some wonderfully memorable main characters. Naomi starts off shy and quiet, but during the trip to Mexico she gains confidence in herself and learns to speak up for herself. Even Skyla, Naomi's mother, is portrayed with both positive and negative sides. Pam Munoz Ryan shows that Skyla wants to be a good parent in some respects, but she is simply too immature. The contrast between Skyla and Naomi is striking and makes “Becoming Naomi Leon” a fascinating book. I highly recommend it to all young readers.
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