Plot: This page-turner of a mystery follows the disappearance of a young boy in Mexico and his sister and friend's quest to find him. Their path is mired with monsters, some friends, and some foes. Readers will enjoy the developing suspicions and surprises.
Prose: Paz's prose is evenly paced and ideally written for young readers. Spanish words and phrases are both educational and well-placed.
Originality: Though Life and Death is unique in its subversion of the traditional tale of La Llorona, it shines as a story on coping with loss. The death of Miguel's grandfather, the disappearance of Natalia's brother, and the loss of La Llorona’s children show unique perspectives on grief.
Character/Execution: Miguel and Natalia, the novel's principal characters, are well-fleshed out, though they do come across as somewhat younger than their years. The wealth of supporting characters, particularly La Llorona, El Charro, and Death, are both fascinating and memorable.
Blurb: Paz has created a wonderful young adult book. While Life and Death is itself an enthralling fantastical mystery, it also explores the complexities of grief and loss, while simultaneously educating readers on Latin American folklore.
Date Submitted: May 29, 2021