Wednesday, 8 February 2017

YAKIMALI’S GIFT by Linda Covella

Amazon UK £3.30 £9.53
Amazon US $4.07 414.99
Amazon CA $ n.a / $20.27

Young adult / Adventure / Romance
18th Century / 1775
Mexico / California

It's 1775 in Mexico, New Spain, and 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, of Spanish and Pima Indian ancestry, can't seem to live up to her mother's expectations or fit into the limited female roles of her culture. To escape, Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves. At a greater cost than she could ever have imagined, her dream of adventure in faraway lands is realized. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza's historic colonization expedition to California. On the arduous four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, the young widow Fernanda can entrust with her deepest thoughts; Gloria, who becomes the sister Fernanda always wished for; and Gloria's seductive brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo--half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel's layers of hidden feelings, she's torn between him and Nicolas, the handsome Spanish soldier hoping to win her heart. But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama's Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.”

Although primarily written for young adults, this is an engaging and intriguing narrative for any over-fifteen age group. It sets us on the path of a four-month journey with Fernanda and we meet and make friends with her, Gloria, Gloria’s handsome brother, Miguel, and the Spanish soldier Nicolas. Inevitably there is romance between our young heroine and the two young men, involving mixed feelings of a ‘coming of age’ nature. Which one will she choose? Or will she walk away from both?

The author’s depth of research is evident both in the culture, the settlement of the Spanish in their strange New World, and the thoughts, reactions, responses and feelings of young people. All bound within the every-day drama of every-day life and Fernanda’s own desire to understand her mother’s ancestry, this is a wonderful novel populated by some wonderful characters.

© Helen Hollick
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