In the Shade of the Nispero Tree

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9780440416609: In the Shade of the Nispero Tree

When her mother wants her to be part of the high society world in their native Puerto Rico, Teresa attends a private school but loses her best friend.

All Teresa and her best friend and classmate Ana think about is winning the contest for the Junior Queen and Princess of their town in Ponce, Puerto Rico. But Tere's mother has different ideas for her only daughter. She wants her to be part of La Sociedad, "high society," and go to a fancy private school.

At first Tere doesn't want to leave her school friends to follow her mother's dream. She knows her parents can't afford the luxuries the rich girls take for granted. But when Tere gets into trouble and has a fight with Ana, she quickly changes her mind. Now she finds herself caught between two worlds.

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About the Author:

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She taught at the University of Puerto Rico for seven years before moving to the United States.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-6-A story about growing up in the 1960s in class-conscious Puerto Rico. Tere's father owns an auto-repair shop and her mother is a dressmaker. Mami aspires to fit into high society and especially to have her daughter attend the prestigious private Academia school. Papi does not want Teresa associating with snobs and does not think that they can afford it. And Tere doesn't want to leave her best friend, Ana. But when Tere and Ana attend their teacher's wedding and Tere notices the darkness of the groom's skin, Ana helps open her friend's eyes to the fact that their teacher, most of their friends, and Ana herself are black. Tere is stunned. "I couldn't believe it! To me, for somebody to be black, she or he had to be really black and have full lips and a wide nose...." It is then that Tere begins to become aware of her mother's blatant racism. Then, caught in a foolish lie at school, she decides to transfer to the Academia. As she tries to make her way among the competitive, shallow girls there, she loses herself again and again until she and her mother both finally see truth and mend their friendships. Tere never does come off as a fourth grader; while sometimes naive, her character seems more like an adolescent. Yet there are strong characterizations here, of both children and adults, and the immersion into a different culture is thorough and effective.
Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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