The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
by Meg Medina
by Meg Medina
Book Jacket Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strong-willed, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in magical realism or stories with a Latin setting and influence.
The story is set in the village of Tres Montes. Where that is exactly is not specified, which really lends itself to the magical atmosphere of the book. While most of the characters are miners, it is never directly stated what they are mining. A date is never mentioned; the characters do drive in a car, but no mention is made as to the specific model or really any technology outside of transportation.
The magical side of the realism is very subtle. For those unfamiliar, “magical realism” is a genre in which magic elements are a natural part of an otherwise mundane environment. In this story, the magic mainly centers around ghosts having actual powers. I personally appreciated that the magical elements of the story do not have anything to do with Sonia's “powers.”
The characters are all excellently realized. When Sonia goes to the city to work, what makes the house where she works really come alive is the collection of people she meets there, both good and bad. One thing I found odd about the book, though not in a bad way, is that other character narrate parts of the story. Sonia's aunt, her friend Pancho, and Oscar, the friendly grandfather figure she meets in the city, all share in the narration. This was distracting at first (as it makes the story no longer the story of the Girl Who Could Silence the Wind), but especially toward the end of the story it really contributes to the narrative to have others besides Sonia tell what is happening.
I especially enjoyed Sonia as a character. She is a young woman searching for meaning and direction in life. I liked how the story presented her growing up and her journey into the wider world- not just the world beyond her village, but the wider world of adulthood. Your parents and the people who protect you don't always know what's right, people you meet don't always want to help you- people will lie and hurt you- and Sonia learns all of this. She has to decide for herself what her dream is, and what to do when that dream is threatened. When she learns what has happened to her brother, Sonia has the opportunity to compromise all of her beliefs in order to save her brother's life and her solution to that problem allows her to fully realize her destiny.
Most of all I would recommend this book to fans of The Hunger Games trilogy. While differing greatly in setting, this book is very similar in tone. The harsh reality of Sonia's world, and the strength Sonia must develop to face that reality and rise above it, put me very much in mind of the peace Katniss finds at the end of her own journey.