3 out of 4 stars
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The Ordinary Doll is a poignant and gripping historical fiction written by Mario Kiefer.
Luciana is a fourteen-year-old daughter of a bracero, a Mexican laborer working in the fields. She is the second of twelve children. Her older sister, Lucia, lives with the rancher and his wife as a domestic help. Consequently, Luciana does the household chores and takes care of her younger siblings while their parents work. At fourteen, Luciana dreams of a future life better than the one she has right now. She dreams of love, family, and home. Those dreams are shattered by a tragedy that would change her life forever.
The book includes a multitude of subjects including adultery, betrayal, domestic violence, disability, homosexuality, drug addiction, zealotry, and depression, among others. The author successfully integrates Mexican myths, folklores, and superstitions into the story as well as Mexican traditions like weddings and funerals, and historical events like the Vietnam War and the World Trade Center 9/11 Attack. A glossary of Spanish words is included in the book for reference.
Told in the third-person omniscient point of view, this is a fast-paced, touching, moving, and memorable book about a girl who found an alternative way to survive. It has a captivating premise and the author presents the plot in a series of staggering events that hold the readers’ interest from start to finish making this book a real page-turner. Shocking twists and revelations are in abundance which makes the story culminate in a mind-boggling climax.
The author does a great job in describing not only the settings, from the terrains of Texas to the hills of England, but also the various emotions of the characters especially those of Luciana. I particularly enjoyed the author’s vivid depictions of Luciana’s nightmares. I can only describe them as electrifying.
Though Luciana is the only one provided with ample backstories, I found all the characters well-developed and realistic in that they exist in almost every community like Papa Jesus and best friend Bess. They are also realistically portrayed complete with behaviors, moral standards, and fitting dialogues. My favorite character is, naturally, Luciana. Though I would do things differently if I were in her situation, I admire her strength, courage, and inventiveness, and I commend the author for coming up with such a heroine.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is moving, thrilling, and shocking. I particularly like the unpredictability of the story, but the part I like most is the final revelation. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming.
I like everything about the book except the errors which are too many to ignore including improperly-placed commas (Since, this was), misspelled words (barely new Tomas instead of barely knew Tomas), missing prepositions (for the entirety her life), and incorrect word usage (it’s true cost instead of its true cost).
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is poignant and gripping. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those who enjoy stories about rising above adversity. Scenes of abuse, violence, and gore, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
The Ordinary Doll
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