Cassandra's Reviews > Nilda

Nilda by Nicholasa Mohr
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Apr 17, 2011

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Read in April, 2011

Had it been written today, and not in the early 1970s, it may have been classified as a middle grade or young adult novel. Instead, it has become one of the classics of children's literature. While it is most widely recognized as "Hispanic" literature, its reach extends far beyond the Puerto Rican community in which Nilda and her family live. By choosing to set her story around the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she makes Nilda's story one that everyone can relate to. People who may have looked away otherwise find themselves drawn to a story that is connected to their own. As a result, they end up learning about life in Spanish Harlem and realizing that it is not so different from the lives they lead.

Ten-year-old Nilda does not fully understand how much her family has to struggle to get by, and that is a testament to how much they care about her. She does her part to help out and does not complain (too loudly) when she has to do without something for the benefit of the family. She truly appreciates the little treats that she gets when she gets them, unlike the other children who are able to do things like buy milk and cookies every day at school. She may resent having to give up her room when the new baby is born, but she loves her nephew very much, helping take care of him in any way she can.

Nilda's story is one that a lot of kids today could learn a lot from. It does not have a hugely obvious central theme, and Mohr does not spend the novel hitting the reader over the head with it. There are a number of important themes addressed in the novel - poverty, racism, gender, class - and the reader can learn a lot from the example set by Nilda and her family in their handling of all of them.

Nilda is a beautiful story about a girl growing up in a less than beautiful world, and it is well worth the read.

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