Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

How Tia Lola Saved the Summer

How Tia Lola Saved the Summer

Julia Alvarez
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 2011   ISBN: 978-0375867279

It is summer, and Miguel should be enjoying being out of school. He should be looking forward to the important baseball game that he will be playing in a week. Unfortunately, Miguel is not happy about any of it. The problem is that Miguel’s mother, Mami, has invited the Sword family to stay. Victor Sword helped Tia Lola to get her papers so that she could stay in Vermont with Miguel, his mother, and his sister. Mami is grateful to Victor and has grown fond on him, so she has invited him to bring his daughters to Vermont to stay for a week.

Miguel tries his best not to be grumpy about the visitors when they arrive, and Tia Lola does her best to help by announcing that she is going to run her own summer camp for Miguel, his sister, and Victor’s three daughters. She gives everyone a toy sword which she says will help everyone (including Mami and Victor) to “conquer” something during their stay. No one knows what she means at first, but as the week unfolds, it becomes clear that somehow the swords do seem to have magical powers.

One by one, the people in the house deal with problems. Cari has to figure out how not to be so afraid of the world. Juanita struggles with feeling left out, and Victoria needs to find a way to tell her father that she needs a little space and independence. Essie has to learn that what she really wants is right under her nose, and then there is poor Miguel and his hopes for the baseball game. First rain, and then a sprained ankle make it impossible for him to practice with the team. It seems that nothing is going right for him. Is Tia Lola really right? Is there really magic inside of us, and is this magic able to help us solve problems?

In this heartwarming story, a family finds ways to make things work for them, thanks to the love and wisdom of Tia Lola. The author explores the interactions between Miguel’s family and the visitors, and the lessons that they learn. She also captures the essence of summer days with parties, campfires, barbecues, and other summertime amusements.