Love. Destiny, Friendship. Lightning.
All these combine in Laura Resau’s The Lightning Queen, an excellent middle grade novel. Told in two voices, it opens with Mateo, who has just arrived at his mother’s Mixteca village in Oaxaca, from their home in Maryland. He has barely arrived when his grandfather pulls him aside to ask for his help. Instead of stating the help he needs, grandfather, Teo, begins telling the story of his life on The Hill of Dust and the year he met Esma, Queen of Lightning, a girl his age who belongs to a traveling Romany family.
Esma’s grandmother tells fortunes and she declares that Esma and two are destined to be friends for life and that each will save the other’s life. The two begin scheming to ensure that Esma’s family returns the following year. In the rest of the story, we see their friendship unfold, through good times and bad. As we approach the end of the book, we return to the present, to Mateo and the story comes full circle.
Resau, a cultural anthropologist, effectively weaves details about Mixteca and Romany culture into the story and explains how she adapted real-life stories to write The Lightning Queen.
This is an excellent book and I think, had I stayed at my old school, it would have been a read aloud for my class. I highly recommend this excellent story about families and friendship.