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Review: The Other Side of the River by Alda P. Dobbs

The Other Side of the River by Alda P. Dobbs

The Other Side of the River
Alda P. Dobbs
Delacorte Press
Published September 6, 2022

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About The Other Side of the River

From the award-winning author of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna, Alda P. Dobbs, comes a compelling new novel about building a new life in America. Strong and determined, Petra Luna returns in a story about the immigrant experience that continues to be relevant today.

Petra Luna is in America, having escaped the Mexican Revolution and the terror of the Federales. Now that they are safe, Petra and her family can begin again, in this country that promises so much. Still, twelve-year-old Petra knows that her abuelita, little sister, and baby brother depend on her to survive. She leads her family from a smallpox-stricken refugee camp on the Texas border to the buzzing city of San Antonio, where they work hard to build a new life. And for the first time ever, Petra has a chance to learn to read and write.

Yet Petra also sees in America attitudes she thought she’d left behind on the other side of the Río Grande―people who look down on her mestizo skin and bare feet, who think someone like her doesn’t deserve more from life. Petra wants more. Isn’t that what the revolution is about? Her strength and courage will be tested like never before as she fights for herself, her family, and her dreams.

Petra’s first story, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna, was a New York Public Library Book of the Year and a Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection.

My Review

After I read BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA last year, I knew I wanted to read more of Petra’s brave story and see what happened to her and her family. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER begins where BAREFOOT DREAMS ends, picking up with Petra Luna on the bridge, following her into a refugee camp, and on into a new life.

I love the way the story is paced. It gives time for readers to sink into the historical setting without lingering too long. I felt like I could picture what was happening and the streets of San Antonio in 1913. The relationship between Petra and her sister was also really great. She loves and protects her sister, but sometimes feels annoyed by her, too. I felt like the relationship played out in a very realistic way. Petra also feels very much her age at twelve, almost thirteen. She feels the pressure of being a provider for her family and keeping the promise to her father to keep the family safe. But she doesn’t feel like a tiny adult.

All in all, I loved this story– as much if not more than the first book. I think readers looking for historical fiction should absolutely check out THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER. I don’t think you’d have to read BAREFOOT DREAMS first, but they’re both really good.

Content Notes for The Other Side of the River

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Petra and her family are Mexican refugees living in Texas.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Petra meets a nun who helps her. Petra’s grandmother sometimes prays and shares some of her beliefs. Petra and her family celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Violent Content
Some racist and prejudiced statements.

Drug Content

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