The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind – Meg Medina

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Sonia’s entire village believes she has a gift, but it’s only in leaving home that she finds out who she truly is. A compelling tale from a rich new voice in young adult fiction.

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.

“…they confessed they had always had a soft spot for old mountain stories like his, for tales of humble people and the courage it took to live their days. For true stories of magic and love.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I have a soft spot for old mountain stories like this.

High Points.
Sonia. Pancho. Rafael. Oscar. Trains. Valleys. Milagos. Abuela. Spirits. Superstitions. Hibiscus. Poetry. History. Traditions. Community. Humble mountain folk. Family. Wishes. Tres Montes. Longing to be ordinary. The shades of a reading tree.

Low Points.
I think I had come to the conclusion that this book was going to be a magical realism book when it actually wasn’t. When I read the synopsis I got so excited because it sounded so completely different to anything I had read. I’ve always loved magical realism and superstitions and old traditions and “old mountain stories” and although this book has some of these elements; I was expecting more.
I don’t really want to go into detail but there were certain situations that, although were incredibly well-written and harrowing, seemed to eclipse Sonia’s story.
The more I think about it, actually, the more I realise how misleading the title of this book is. It’s not really about The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind because a great chunk of the book isn’t even told from her perspective.
I think this book is about community, friendship and family above everything, which is great and makes a refreshing change from “It’s my destiny to save the world blah blah blaaah”.
I’ve just read through those above paragraphs and realised I’ve said a lot without actually saying anything. I guess my only low point is that I assumed that this book was going to be a different book than it actually was.
I just wished we had been allowed to spend more time in the shade of a reading tree telling stories of superstitions, ghosts, traditions, community, magic and anonymous hibiscus flowers on your window ledge.

Like I mentioned before, I really wish we had spent more time with Sonia because she was not only an incredibly likeable heroine (a novelty in YA, I know) but a well-thought out and original character.
One of the main things I loved about Sonia was that, even though she was described as ‘special’ because of the belief that she had the power to heal people (cue alarm bells), there was so much more to her than that.
I often wonder with some of the ladies in YA fiction, you know the ones “I’m special because it’s my destiny to save the world and get stuck in a love triangle”, what would happen if you took away their “special-ness”.
Yeah, Sonia had something that those girls lack: personality.
She was clever, hardworking, funny, loyal and I loved her.
Also, I believe that shawls are an incredibly underrated garment.

Love Interest Hero
Yeaaah Pancho was a hero. He was the hero of this story.
I think my heart now belongs to a green eyed Chilean taxi-driver with dreams of being a poet.
*glares at Sonia*

HA. I have such a weakness for cheeky boys with a healthy appetite for women getting up to mischief.
I loved Rafael and I loved the banter he had with Sonia. More fun big brothers in YA please!

Theme Tune.
Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart.

For Pancho.
Yeah, I love him. GET OVER IT.

Sadness Scale.
Oh no. I thought this book was going to be a happy ending. And it was, riiiiiight the end.
It had a happy last page.
But before that?! Gosh.
I’m going to completely go against everything I wrote in my low points and contradict myself thoroughly by saying the next thing, but whatever it’s my review.
I loved that Ms Medina pulled the rug out from under me when I read this book and added the-situation-I’m-not-mentioning-because-of-spoilers that I wasn’t expecting.
I appreciate why Ms Medina added this storyline because it was fascinating to read about something which I wasn’t familiar with before I read this book. Extremely harrowing and beautifully written.
Sorry to be vague but most of the sadness stems from this situation and, as much as I don’t want to spoil it for you, I also want you to be as sad as I was.

Recommended For.
People who are looking for an original story with great characters, beautiful settings and an ever so slight vein of magic running through it. People who believe in superstitions. People who have a soft spot for tales of humble mountain folk. People who could happily spend hours listening to stories in the shade of a tree. People who like boys who are “too given to daydreams”. People who were wondering where Sonia was when the wind was battering the British Isles this past week… try silencing that, Miss Ocampo!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers.

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