Review of Shine On, Luz Véliz!

Shine On, Luz Véliz! Shine On, Luz Véliz!
by Rebecca Balcárcel
Intermediate    Chronicle    276 pp.    g
5/22    978-1-7972-0967-8    $17.99

Eleven-year-old Luz Véliz was a rising soccer star until a broken leg sidelined her. Now she’s not sure who she is, or how to relate to her Guatemalan American father, who had proudly coached her team. A chance encounter with her school’s robotics class provides her with a new goal: to earn a coveted place in advanced robotics the following fall. With the help of a tech-loving retired neighbor, Mr. Mac, she’s well on her way. Then her parents reveal some shocking news: she has a Guatemalan half-sister who is coming to live with the family. Mr. Mac says, “A self is not discovered, but created”; what kind of self will Luz create in this new reality? Balcárcel (Belpré honoree for The Other Half of Happy) deftly interlaces many themes, including identity (both cultural and personal), girls in STEM, immigration, and family trauma. The well-drawn characters are realistically flawed: Luz is full of adolescent angst and anger at her family’s upheaval, while her half-sister, Solana, eventually reveals that her perfect manners and cheerful demeanor are an effort to be a model immigrant. Effective pacing keeps readers invested in Luz’s family’s trials and tribulations from beginning to end.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Rachael Stein
K Rachael Stein

K Rachael Stein is the digital resources analyst at Southern Maryland Regional Library. She blogs at

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