I expected this to be one of those books that's trying too hard to be 'multicultural,' where the experience of Mexican culture opens a character's eyes and she finds herself blah blah blah. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I found myself in a story where the 'multicultural' details felt natural and necessary, where another culture is not seen as some perfect thing, but as a flawed yet beautiful world. The story fits the classic form of hero going on a voyage, but in this case our hero, Sophie, starts out as a fearful and slightly fragile sixteen year old who undergoes a believable transformation into a more capable and strong person as she's forced to actually encounter real threats rather than just worry about what might happen. The supporting characters all live and breathe - the great-aunt Dika, in particular, is marvelous - and even the characters who appear for only a few pages are fully-formed. Each setting is vivid, the language is lovely, and the ways in which the characters change felt true, both to life and themselves. Sophie never came out of her shell too quickly, and the plot never felt like a formula. Good for thoughtful middle-schoolers and up.