"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." — Madeleine L'Engle

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie

Title: The Princess of Las Pulgas
Author: C. Lee McKenzie
Released: 2010
Pages: 334
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or 0"the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.

Review: The very first line of the book basically gives you a feel of what the book is about. "Last night I pleaded with Death, but he turned a bony back to me, pushed Hope into the corridor and shut the door." (Page 1)

Carlie has recently lost her father to cancer and all her family is suffering from this loss. They have to move to a city that is the complete opposite of what they are all used to. They must adjust to their new life and make many sacrifices. As they spend more time there, they find that things may be different than what they thought they would be.

At the beginning Carlie isn't happy the way her life is shaping up to be. Her new school is nothing like the one she went to before and there were many things that she had to learn. At first she wasn't happy at her new school and didn't try to fit in but as the story progressed she noticed that there were many good things in Las Pulgas.

There were so many emotions that passed through her and I think it's a reason why I liked this book so much. She felt anger towards her dad for having died and left them the way they are but at the same time she's sad he isn't there anymore. One thing I loved is when her dad talked to her in her mind when she needed guidance.

Her mom and brother, Keith, had a lot of adjusting to do and the reader could tell the different ways that each were handling their problems. Keith gets in trouble but at the same time that brings him to accept their new reality. Their mom was always hurting for what had happened to her and her way of life had to change.

There were some amazing characters each dealing with different problems that I think brought them together. The ending was one that I really liked! It was emotional but I think it suited the book well. I had high hopes for this book and I'm glad to say that I loved it!

I reviewed this book as part of a blog tour.


  1. Thanks for the review, Diana. I'm so happy to be your 301st follower, and, of course, I'm delighted you liked Carlie's story.

    You have a link on my sidebar at http://writegame.blogspot.com

  2. wow, awesome review, Diana!! this one sounds soooo good, but also it might be a little intense for me. It sounds like it was really emotional!