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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Broken Branches is a coming of age novella for young adults written by Becky Lee Villareal. Sarafina had big dreams. She loved to write, and Ms. Olivares seemed to think she could be a great writer with the proper education and training. Sarafina wanted this future so very badly. She wanted to be able to take care of her mom who had struggled to support her and her abuela. When Ms. Olivares introduced the genealogy project and suggested that it would be a good addition to her portfolio for admission to the Towngate Magnet School, Sarafina was determined to finally persuade her mom to tell her about her dad and his family. She knew and loved the stories her mom had told her about the Garcia family and their ancestor who had been a Viceroy and then a President, but whenever she asked about her father, her mother would only say that he was dead.
Becky Lee Villareal’s coming of age novella for young adults, The Broken Branches, is a beautifully written and moving story about a young woman’s search for her identity. I was transfixed as Sarafina slowly and carefully recovers the broken branches of her family tree in her research for a school project that takes on a much deeper dimension for her and her mom. I loved following her genealogical research and seeing how her and her mom interact with Nicole, a former classmate, who helps Sarafina see her home and straitened circumstances through different eyes. Becky Lee Villareal’s characters are compelling and credible, and her plot works quite well. The Broken Branches is most highly recommended.