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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

(Paola Santiago #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  295 reviews
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It's all they've heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Rick Riordan Presents
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Tehlor Mejia Hi! It's a series! Book one is May 2020, book two is May 2021 and after that we'll see :)…moreHi! It's a series! Book one is May 2020, book two is May 2021 and after that we'll see :)(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Avocado Reader what??? i had no idea that could be a possibility ohmygosh that's crazy but know that i think about it, maybe??…morewhat??? i had no idea that could be a possibility ohmygosh that's crazy but know that i think about it, maybe??(less)

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Rick Riordan
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Don’t Go Near the Water

When I was a kid growing up in Texas, I was terrified of going in deep water. That wasn’t just because the movie Jaws freaked me out. (Although, yes, that giant robotic shark scared the Twizzlers out of me).

Worse: I had grown up listening to campfire stories about La Llorona, the weeping ghost who had drowned her own children in a river, was now condemned to wander the riverbanks for eternity, looking for their bodies. If she happened to come across some other mortal chil
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: believathon-iii
Paola Santiago is a rational, science-loving, 12-year old, who is frequently embarrassed by her Mom's overtly superstitious nature.

When Mom is not burning candles for this or that reason, she is warning Paola of the dangers of nonsensical things, like not going near the river Gila because of the legendary La Llorona.

Paola will admit, the river can be dangerous. In fact, one of her classmates drowned in it just last year, but it had nothing to do with La Llorona.

Despite the dangers, Paola and her
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable start of a series with a world that I predict will only get more rich with each passing book. I loved some of the exploration of Mexican folktales, such as the chupacabras and La Llorona, however I was expecting something entirely different going into this, and I'm mostly pleasantly surprised by what this book ended up being.

Paola is a fantastic protagonist - she doesn't believe the legends and would always try to find the scientific or rational explanation, but along with
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-aug
Star Rating: —> 3.5 Stars

This was great! I loved getting to delve deep into latinx lore! It is actually, surprisingly, one culture’s folklore that is quite new to me, in a way. More the presentation, rather than the actual tales & creatures and such (Supernatural is quite informative, on all things, well, supernatural, naturally, for a fictional TV show; i’ve learned quite a lot over the years! I mean come on—Dean & Sam never disappoint! 😉)

Discovering new mythological/ folklore tale based novel
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
A super fun, sweet, adventure filled middle-grade perfect for Halloween time!
Aug 30, 2019 marked it as own-to-read
I'm sorry, did you say La Llorona? The legendary ghost my parents scared with me as a kid if I misbehaved?? (I mean, besides El Cucuy, obviously lol.)

i need it gif
Leah Waters
Another DNFed book. :(

I just didn't care enough to continue.
Rameela (Star)
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Initial Thoughts: Y'all this was so fantastic I was so blown away!!!! Idk how to even gush about this properly because it was so fun and amazing and new and DARK! I did NOT expect the darkness and I welcome it with open arms! Absolutely PHENOMENAL ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is a charming middle grade full of heart. Starring Paola, a space obsessed girl, it's a story of friendship, first crushes, and jealousy. It's also a story about the clash between religion and science and between issues of prejudice and privilege. I love STEM girls so much and seeing Paola was wonderful as she deals with new experiences, betrayal
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
Paola's friend Emma is missing. Did she drown like the girl from last year? Did she get kidnapped like those other kids did in a nearby town? Should Paola and her friend Dante just let the adults handle it? When Paola decides there is not enough time to get the adults up to speed, she pitches her plan to Dante and then unexpected things start to happen. Perhaps the mystical beliefs of her mother are not so crazy after all. Could it be that even science requires an element of faith? This new Rick ...more
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: dropped-series
While I definitely enjoyed the mythology and lore aspect of the novel and I liked Paola as a character, I somehow expected a different story and this plot wasn't as exciting as it could've been. And that's why I'm not going to read the sequel, though I can see why other people will. ...more
Allyson (AllyEmReads)
3.5 stars

This was incredible! I loved reading about all the ghost stories I grew up hearing from my friends at sleepovers. La Llorona was present in a lot of them, as well as the chupacabras and the demon hands crawling up out of the earth. I can’t imagine what this book means to Latinx people, and I for sure will be recommending it to everyone I can find!
This was such an adventurous, unique and well written middle grade book! I found it to be so much darker (in a good way) than I had expected. There was a lot of action and there were constantly new things to see and learn about. I really enjoy learning about latinex folklore and this incorporates some different folklore that I didn’t know about. I can only imagine how excited the latinex community must be to see their folklore represented.
At the beginning of the book Pao really irritated me. I f
For my first book by Tehlor Kay Mejia I really enjoyed this one and Ik nothing about this one except what my friend lori told me about which I buddy read this one with her. It was book number 3 for #believeathon round 3! I am going to take a break from middle grades and read some ya!(:
This was an excellent story that is based on a Mexican folktale about a mother named La Llorona. Like all folktales, variations exist, but the general outline of the story is that a woman kills her own children and she is now a spirit who mourns their deaths forever; many have her spirit killing other children as a way to save her children. I was not at all familiar with the tale, but I really enjoyed this rendition with Paola as the MC. I love that she is very human and flawed and she learns ab ...more
Caidyn (he/him/his)
I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

CW: kidnapping, death, tense mother-daughter relationships, and general scenes of violence/action

Rick Riordan Presents is quickly becoming my favorite middle-grade imprint. Everything I've read has 1) been amazingly well-written and 2) opened me up to a new culture and cultural beliefs that I wouldn't have seen without this. I love that he has ownvoices create stories about their culture. While I'm not an ownvoices reviewer for
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every middle-grade kid -- and their parents, too
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
The eponymous Paola believes in science — and nothing else except unfettered loyalty to her friends Dante Mata and Emma Lockwood, all aged 12. Paola especially doesn’t believe in the witchy old wives’ tales so dear to her desperate Mexican-American single mom. La Llorona, los ahogados, el Chupacabra, spirits from beyond and all the spooky rest of it — including the velas (candles) lit around the house — simply reflect ignorant, backward-looking minds.

But when Emma vanishes, leaving nothing
Aug 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
Ohhhhh I'm so ready for this ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-2020
You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Rick Riordan Presents for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

I’ve been looking forward to this book pretty much since it was announced, because, one, Rick Riordan Presents as an imprint is hitting it out of the park with these releases and, two, La Llorona was a part of my childhood, and yes to all the Mexican folklore in this.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is a harrowing adven
Heather Hill
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, library, audiobook
When Paola's friend Emma disappears, she is thrown into a world of myths and legends that her logical brain previously thought to be just stories. Not only does this book bring to light folklore and tales that may not otherwise be highlighted, it manages to tackle timely issues such as racism and immigration (and does so in such a way that will prompt all readers to think about these issues, and hopefully lead to discussion about said issues). It also brings to light issues like crushes, dealing ...more
Victor The Reader
One “spirited” and fairly chilling adventure that has the Hispanic folklore ghost La Llorona as it’s villain. Paola and her friend Dante must venture beyond a forbidden river, where a tragic drowning occurred, to find her other friend Emma who strangely vanished. More different than the other stories in the RRP series as it definitely is it’s own story that certainty is a excitingly thrilling one. A- (91%/Excellent)
Cait Hutsell
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. It’s exciting, has great characterization, it’s funny, and it hits that sweet “7th-9th” grade spot.

I highly recommend for any reader of fantasy, mythology, and magical realism.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This is definitely one of the better Rick Riordan Presents books I’ve read, which was a nice surprise considering my history of disappointment with this author. This book is definitely a success as a middle grade story, and I can easily picture myself being obsessed with this book as a child. I’d probably be so spooked by La Llorona. Obviously there are certain things in here that don’t work as well for me, but I’m also a bit more of a mature age than the intended audience of this book.

Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, netgalley
I've been a Rick Riordan fan for ages, but this is the first Rick Riordan Presents book I've read, and it did not disappoint. Paola is a budding scientist who grates under her mom's superstitions, but when one of her best friends goes missing, she and her other best friend realize her mom's stories are real and enter the adjacent magical world. While I'm no longer the target demographic for children's books, I really enjoyed this and think fans of Riordan's would as well (I was also 100% HERE fo ...more
Book #9 for Popculture readathon. Read a coming of age book by an AOC.

Note: This is my first Rick Riordan Presents book and I am not an own voices reviewer.

This story about the very scientific minded Paola Santiago who's goes on a very mystical, fantastical adventure to save her friend. There was a lot of this I liked. I liked how the experience of Paola as a second generation American with her mom was depicted. I liked the scientific mind of Paola and her friendships with Dante and Emma. I like
This is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. I can’t even pinpoint it enough to say 3.5 stars. As several reviewers have noted, it rather sags towards the middle. I also really wish that a glossary had been included instead of making me fight Google and losing the train of the story. Flipping to the back of the book would have been much easier! Since other books in the Rick Riordan presents imprint do this, I’m really annoyed at this lack.
Pao is a rather discontented impoverished 12 year old who is
Kim McGee
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you have read Stephen King's OUTSIDER then you know all about some of the scary monsters of Mexican legend and this story features one of them. La Llorona comes from the dark waters of the river to steal children and drag them down to replace the children she lost. Even though they laugh at the superstition, Paola and her friends steer clear of the river usually but it is the best place to go star gazing. When one of the friends goes missing Paola and Dante fear that she has been taken by La ...more
Alicia (A Kernel of Nonsense)
Tehlor Kay Mejia’s middle grade debut, Paola Santiago and the Rivers of Tears, takes inspiration from Mexican-American folklore as the young Paola Santiago discovers that all the fantastic stories her mom has been telling her about since she was small are in fact real. Pao knows the world is best explained through science, which is why her mother’s stories about supernatural beings like La Llorona seem so unbelievable. That is until Emma, one of her best friends goes missing. Pao begins to have ...more
Briana Urban
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Paola Santiago is obsessed with space and science, and does not believe in her mom's superstitions of beings like La Llorona. Pao and her friends, Dante and Emma, are constantly told to stay away from the river after a classmate drowned a year ago. But the Gila River has the best spots for stargazing so the three plan to meet up one night, except Emma never shows up. Pao and Dante's search for Emma leads them to a world of nightma
Mr. Salerno
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The characters (both human and mythical) are well written and developed. especially Paola, Orinda, and . The story is defined by the relationships between multiple sets of characters and the action scenes will keep your heart pounding. Though many middle grade stories center around friendship and family, this tale is honest about those relationships and places particular important on forgiveness. Some of the mythical elements could have used more flushing out (the rift and the orb).
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Tehlor Kay Mejia is a YA author and poet at home in the wild woods and alpine meadows of Southern Oregon. When she's not writing, you can find her plucking at her guitar, stealing rosemary sprigs from overgrown gardens, or trying to make the perfect vegan tamale. She is active in the Latinx lit community, and passionate about representation for marginalized teens in media. You can find her on Twi ...more

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