Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tortilla Sun” as Want to Read:
Tortilla Sun
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tortilla Sun

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  513 ratings  ·  104 reviews
When twelve-year-old Izzy discovers a beat-up baseball marked with the words "Becausemagic" while unpacking in yet another new apartment, she is determined to figure out what it means. What secrets does this old ball have to tell? Her mom certainly isn't sharing anyespecially when it comes to Izzy's father, who died before Izzy was born. But when she spends the summer in h ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 5th 2010 by Chronicle Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tortilla Sun, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Marilyn Yes, possibly a 12 or 13 yr old also. I enjoyed reading it as a mature adult.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  513 ratings  ·  104 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tortilla Sun
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Skip by: Josiah
A middle school reader about a young girl Izzy, who is shipped off to spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico so her mother can continue her research in Costa Rica. Izzy is drawn into her Latin roots, makes some young friends, has to deal with some trauma as well as discovering why her mother has been so reluctant to discuss her deceased husband. The town storyteller, Socorro, also adds a bit of mystery to the whole story. Enjoyable read. Worthwhile addition to school libraries too.
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I love when a new storytelling talent creates such a beautiful first novel that we're left wondering how they could have possibly been the one behind it. As soon as I spotted Tortilla Sun on bookstore shelves in 2010, I instinctively identified it as a contender for the Newbery awards. The book's aura was magical, and the description on the book jacket promised a powerful story if the author executed it well. Jennifer Cervantes's ability to come through in that regard was unknown, but if she cou ...more
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
If you read this book, have a box of tissues ready. I plan on posting a longer review but want to think about this a little more. I will say that I loved having a story featured around Latino characters and celebrating the Latino heritage and culture. I would like to use this as a read aloud with my fifth graders this year. Very powerful message.

See my full review on:
Elizabeth Varadan
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing


What would you do if you were confronted with a mystery about your father, and your mother won’t talk about it? Izzy’s mother has always been restless. After many moves in California, they have just moved again. While unpacking, Izzy comes across her father’s old baseball with the mysterious words, "Because… Love," written on one side. The words between have been rubbed out. Her mother has never told Izzy anything about her father, except that he died before Izzy was born.

Izzy likes to wr
Cindy Hudson
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Izzy and her mother have moved more times than she wants to remember. She’s just getting settled again when her mom announces she’s received a research grant to study in Costa Rica and Izzy will be spending the summer with her nana in New Mexico.

Izzy doesn’t know her grandmother very well, and she’s not at all happy about being dumped for a couple of months while her mom is gone. But once she arrives at the small adobe village near Albuquerque, magic starts to happen. As Izzy begins to discover
Sandra Stiles
Oct 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Izzy has just gotten settled into yet another new home. While unpacking she comes across a baseball that had belonged to her father. It has the words because...magic on it. When she asks her mom about it her mom takes it away and puts it up. Izzy gets the ball back out and then learns the next morning that her mother has received a grant to finish up her studies in Costa Rica. She is sending Izzy to New Mexico to stay with her nana. She is not thrilled about this. However when she arrives she fe ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10 and up, read aloud, families, classrooms
Recommended to Claire by: Chronicle
Izzy is preparing to settle into a new apartment for the summer. She is going through a box one morning and sees a baseball that must have belonged to her father. Her mom just cannot face her husband's death (even after 12 years) and hides the ball.
Now, really curious, Izzy finds and stashes the ball so her mom won't see it.
Unexpectedly a grant comes through for Mom to study in Costa Rica and Izzy must go visit her Nana in New Mexico. Izzy really does not want to do this but is given no choice
Cathe Fein Olson
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a sweet book about a twelve-year-old girl Izzy who spends the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother finishes her studies. While she is there, she becomes immersed in the Mexican culture that her mother had surpressed out of grief after the death of her husband. Izzy searches for answers about her father's death and she may find them if she can find the voice in the wind.

I'm always looking for books with Latino culture and was very happy to have found this one. There
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written story I simply loved! While reading, I kept highlighting favorite quotes. As 12year old Izzy discovered the secret about her past amd the magic of her grandmother's village in New Mexico while spending the summer there, the magic of the story captured me, taking me on an emotional ride that brought tears of sorrow and joy to my eyes. A heartwarming story around family and friendship and about finding the courage to deal with the past, to heal and allow the joy back into one ...more
Judi Paradis
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Izzy's mom is distant and they move a lot. Her dad died before she was born. So, when her mother gets a chance to study in Costa Rica for the summer and sends Izzy to live with her grandmother in New Mexico, she finally gets a chance to find out about her mother's past, and it sheds a great deal of light on who she is and how she lives. Her grandmother is warm and open, and Izzy quickly falls into life in their small Latino community. Mysteries, paranormal events, and an attractive slightly-olde ...more
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great debut novel - enchanting and magical. But beware, it will make you hungry!
Edward Sullivan
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it
An impressive debut--a beautifully written, gentle family story though the plot does seem a bit derivative of other stories of this kind.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
2.5, actually. I was totally on board until the visit to Socorro and the gobbledygook about seeing the truth. Then there was just too much schmoopiness and annoying fatalism.

I did like the idea of Izzy's story cards ... could have students write their own beginnings and then have others continue them? Could also develop a lesson on famous first lines, the power of a hook ... relate to music as well. Although I am now so decrepit, the kids probably won't recognize any of the songs that would firs
This was a wonderful story of a girl without a sense of place or even of family. Her father died before her birth, and her mother, after moving to CA from NM, has never settled in one place long enough for Izzy to put down roots. When a grant for her mother to complete her research comes through at the last moment, Izzy is sent to NM to spend the summer with her grandmother, who she hasn't seen in 6 or 7 years. What she discovers about her family and herself makes for a magical story. ...more
Erin Sterling
A sweet, coming-of-age story about a girl who has to go live with her grandmother in New Mexico while her mother does graduate work in Costa Rica and learns the magic of a small, tight-knit community and uncovers some details about her past and how her father died. The story flowed well and the characters were warm and loving. My only complaint is that the village life seemed a little *too* idyllic, even the tragic bits.
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This should be the next Newbery winner!

My journey through the story touched something bigger in my soul. I love Young Adult books and read at least one a week. But, I haven't read one like Tortilla Sun that touched me so deeply since Return to Sender by Alvarez or Star Girl by Spinelli. my full review will be up on Monday June 28, 2010.
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have only 4 words. I LOOOOVVVEEEE THIS BOOK!!!!!! I didn't quite like it ( I guess ) in the beguinning ,but then I just loved it for the next week that I read it. This is a book anyone could enjoy!!! It is amazingly great!! ...more
Linnea Hendrickson
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written, charming story with an authentic New Mexican setting.
Jun 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
One Sentence Review: I might not be the biggest fan of some of the more touchy feely emotional moments in the book, but the writing of Ms. Cervantes rang true for me in this interesting new novel.
Freya Lustie-Kniser
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For every one of us that longs to believe in magic.
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book.
Kimberly Hill
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Awaiting for Jennifer's next book. ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-and-about-poc
this was a quick read. magical elements and touching themes/relationships
tw: MC named a character in her story an anti-Romani slur
Lisa Finke
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and sentimental. I love that it takes place in New Mexico!
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
12 year old Izzy travels to New Mexico and reconnects with her mother's family. She finally discovers the stories of her dead father, and makes new connections there. Summer between 5th and 6th grade, family is Spanish speaking and Catholic, so a certain amount of god talk in here. Also a whole lot of death and grieving, both past and present, although the book is about learning how to move forward. Much baseball. Much writerly ambition. Cat (Frida) who thinks she is a dog. Village full of borde ...more
Tiffany Vuong
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes, tells a story about a girl named Isabella or that she thinks Isadora. the girl has a baseball that has the two words because Magic. She is determined to find out what those words mean because the baseball that has the words on it has a lot of meaning to her. The baseball originally belonged to her dad who has passed away when she was much younger. her mother never wanted to talk about isadora's father. you said Dora gets sent to New Mexico where her a ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Izzy spends the summer with her grandmother in a New Mexico village, her first time ever to visit her mother's hometown. While there, she learns about her father (who died before she was born), her culture (including making tortillas), and that sometimes even unfixable things can be fixed (but might not be the same as they were before).

Lots of single Spanish words thrown in throughout, as appropriate.

I empathize a lot with Izzy when people wanted to tell her about her father in dribs and drabs.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I like this book because it's interesting and taught me two things. One is family is very important even if the person isn't really related to you. Also, you shouldn't always think about yourself because you might hurt yourself or someone else. I enjoyed it so much because I really understood how Izzy felt about not meeting her dad. I didn't experience it yet, but I think her life is great now because she gets to stay with Nana and Maggie, even her mother. ...more
Izzy is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother in New Mexico. She doesn't know her grandmother or extended family very well and she isn't happy about her summer plans. She does hope to get some answers about her father who died before she was born. The thing that I really liked about this book was the setting. It takes place in New Mexico and the author does a good job of making the place come alive with the descriptions of the landscape as well as the delicious meals they ate. ...more
Diane Burton
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling read. After reading the sample, I had to read the rest of the book. Izzy's compulsion to discover her roots, esp. her father, is realistic. Although she didn't want to spend the summer at her grandmother's in a remote village in New Mexico, that's exactly where she "found" her father, through the reminiscences of the villagers. I found the book enjoyable, esp. learning about Izzy's family culture. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
wonderful setting 1 7 Jun 23, 2010 10:03AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)
  • Prairie Lotus
  • The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls
  • We Dream of Space
  • Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes (Pandava Quartet, #3)
  • Merci Suárez Changes Gears
  • Rick
  • Lyddie
  • For Black Girls Like Me
  • Paola Santiago and the River of Tears (Paola Santiago #1)
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington
  • Goliath (Leviathan, #3)
  • The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner, #2)
  • Help Is On the Way
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)
  • Searching for Coach Taylor
  • The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes
See similar books…

Jen is the NYT bestselling of THE STORM RUNNER series, optioned for TV by Apple. FRACTURED PATH, (2022) FLIRTING WITH FATE, (2022) THRONE OF SAND (2022)

She believes in magic. Loves football. Always roots for the underdog.

Author also writes under J.C. Cervantes

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
41 likes · 11 comments
“I felt as though melted chocolate had oozed its way from my heart to my toes, coating me with comfort on its way down.” 5 likes
“You must be very patient to tell stories. And you must sit with the idea, allowing it to simmer like soup on the stove. You wouldn't go to all the trouble of cutting up the ingredients, throwing them in the pot and expecting it to cook without fire, right?” 3 likes
More quotes…