Pig Park

248p. ebook available. Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781935955764; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781935955771. LC 2013040645.
Gr 7 Up—Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga is facing a summer of uncertainties as her fictitious Chicago neighborhood, Pig Park, sits in the shadow of an abandoned lard company that moved its plant to China. The subsequent decline in population and economic downturn causes local businesses to flounder and Masi's school closes. In desperation, struggling community members agree to build a huge pyramid in their central park to attract tourists. They sell their cars and dig into their savings to contribute to the project. The youth are pressed into heavy labor and clerical work to prepare for its grand opening. An unseen university professor also funds the project, sending his student Felix to help organize community efforts. Later, his colleague Belinda arrives bearing traditional Mexican clothing and folk art with ideas that cause the teens to chafe. She wants them to wear brightly colored, traditional Mexican clothing and sprinkle Spanish in their speech—whether they are of Mexican descent or not. In the midst of it all, Masi's mother suddenly decides to take a "vacation," leaving Masi and her father to run their Mexican bakery alone. The summer is filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement. Although the story presents multiple disparate themes with little depth, readers will appreciate its strong characters and identify with the protagonist's teen angst.—Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL
Masi's Chicago neighborhood, Pig Park, got its name from the once-thriving lard factory there. Now those jobs have gone away, and with them the neighborhood's economic stability. Masi and her friends get involved with a plan to build a tourist attraction to revive their neighborhood. Refreshingly diverse topics and characters notwithstanding, this novel suffers from too many plot lines and themes.

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