Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic, 2004).
This book sucked me right in and made me a huge fan of Pam Munoz Ryan. Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw is in fifth grade and she and her little brother Owen have lived with their grandma since Naomi was three. That was when her mother dropped them off with Gram and never came back… until now. When Skyla (as her mom wants to be called) comes waltzing in the door of Gram’s airstream trailer with all her stuff in a big, black plastic bag, Naomi’s world is turned upside down.
The plot takes a twist and Naomi, Owen, Gram and Gram’s two neighbor friends hit the road in Baby Beluga, as the trailer is called, headed to find Naomi and Owen’s father in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Here’s a short excerpt to get a little taste for yourself:
There we were, minding our lives with the same obedience as a clock ticking. A few weeks earlier the sun had switched to its winter bedtime, so even though it was early evening, the sky was dark as pine pitch. That meant that Gram, Owen, and I couldn’t sit outside on the white rock patio. Instead we had to crowd around the drop-down table in the living room/ kitchen of Baby Beluga. That was what Gram called our Airstream trailer…
…We had already put away the dinner dishes from Wednesday chicken bake and Owen started racing through his second-grade homework like a horse on a tear. People were usually fooled by his looks and thought he was low in school due to being born with his head tilted to one side and scrunched down next to his shoulder. It had straightened a little after three surgeries at Children’s Hospital, but he still talked with a permanent frog voice because of something inside being pinched…
…Gram, in her usual polyester pantsuit and running shoes, was doing her weekly hair set, rolling what little blue hair she had on those new bristle curlers that required no hairpins. (I was not being mean about her hair. It really looked blue in the sunlight.) And I mulled over my sorry situation at school, which was three boys in my fifth-grade class who had decided that Outlaw was the funniest last name in the universe. They did not give me an ounce of peace.
(Image source: Scholastic)