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Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for TeensReadToo.com
Eleven-year-old Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw doesn't like to talk. What is she supposed to say? Abandoned by her parents at age four and raised by her great-grandmother, Naomi is a mixture of Oklahoman and Mexican, but is not able to understand even a word of Spanish--although her new best friend, Blanca, informs her that "Leon" means "lion" and "Soledad is some big saint in Mexico" (p. 54). All these years, her heritage, although with her daily, has escaped her. Who knew? Not Naomi.
Then Naomi's mother, Skyla, returns, and life becomes chaotic. At first, Skyla claims to want a relationship with Naomi and her brother, but can her sudden burst of sentimentality be trusted? Naomi dreams that Skyla has found herself and truly wants to wear mother/daughter outfits and build a family. But if that is true, why hasn't she been showering presents upon Owen, Naomi's physically-disabled brother, as she has been doing for Naomi since she resurfaced in their lives?
Ryan, an award-winning author, gives readers permission to ask the question some may think is silly: Who am I? BECOMING NAOMI LEON demonstrates that who a person is, in fact, is more--much more--than just her name.
Pura Belpre Award Honor Book, 2006
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Honor Book, 2005
SCBA Book Award Nominee, 2005
Schneider Family Middle-School Book Award Winner, 2005
Skipping Stones Honor Awards Winner, 2005
Americas Award-Commended, 2004
Parent's Choice Award-Silver, 2004
Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award Winner, 2004