María’s Beads by C.T. Markee is a pre-teen novel of magical realism. The story’s protagonist is 12-year-old María Cortez, a Californian girl who mysteriously receives magical beads from an elderly woman. The beads may even be able to heal María’s sick best friend, Hannah Van Dyke, since Hannah’s anti-medicine parents refuse to give her treatment. With the beads and her perseverant spirit, María feels determined to save Hannah.
I really like María’s character; she is a thoughtful and caring person, and a very devoted friend. The book highlights María’s Latina heritage, and every few pages feature a few words or brief lines of dialogue in Spanish, as María converses with her Spanish-speaking family and friends. In the book, readers also learn about the Huichol people (who originate from the Sierra Madre Occidental range). Consequently, María’s Beads is both educational and entertaining.
Markee’s characters are multi-faceted. When reading the story, I did not feel as if the characters were fictional; I felt like I was reading about a real girl and her real family and friends. María’s Beads is well-written, its dialogue has a good flow, and it shows the sweet friendship between María and Hannah.
You can find María’s Beads here on Amazon.