The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
It’s the summer of 1969 and garbage is piling up on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Evelyn, who has changed her name from Rosa, has a new job at the Five and Dime. It’s a lot better than her job in the family’s bodega. But that summer is not going to be a normal summer at all. First, Evelyn’s grandmother arrives, complete with large amounts of stylish clothes, makeup and books in Spanish. If Evelyn thought she didn’t get along with her mother, that’s doubly true of her mother and her grandmother who seem to be opposites on everything. One big thing that they disagree about is the Young Lords, young college students who are trying to get the Puerto Ricans in Spanish Harlem to stand up for themselves. They want to find space for a daycare, a place to serve breakfasts to youth, and a place to hand out clothing. Evelyn finds herself right in the middle of a revolution, one that her own family can’t agree about.
Manzano, the actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, has followed up her successful picture book with a book for older readers. Ideal for middle schoolers, this book addresses family issues that can be far more complicated than just not agreeing about food and clothes. It also takes on a history that not many readers may know about, a peaceful revolution right in New York City.
Manzano’s writing is very straight-forward, rarely heading into figurative writing or symbolism. When she does work with imagery, it is very effective, making one hope that in her next books she writes with more depth. That is not to say that this book is not effective as it is written. But it remains more factual and solid.
A strong addition to any collection, this historical fiction novel will both instruct about history and inspire activism. Appropriate for ages 10-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.