Anyone looking for a book with a strong female character will find it in Barely Floating by Lilliam Rivera. Set in East Los Angeles, Rivera’s book features twelve-year-old Natalie de la Cruz Rivera y Santiago, aka Nat. A hard-to-contain fat girl with astucras (cunning), Nat feels it is her duty to school anyone who acts out of bounds. Bull-dozing her way into situations, she’s fearless.

After seeing the performance of an artistic swimming team, the LA Mermaids, Nat decides she wishes to be on the synchronized swimming team. She not only wants to do something glamorous but to wear the sequined and shiny costumes. However, her activist mother and professor father who have strong opinions about objectifying the body tell her no.

But telling Nat no is like a challenge, so she secretly goes behind her parents’ backs to belong. In her mind, make-up can be a type of armor, and in the water, she can make her body do amazing things.

Because deception often comes with consequences, Nat’s plan unravels. As her decisions put a strain on her relationships with friends and family, Nat gains important lessons about trust and the truth. Along with Nat, readers also learn the effects of being judgmental and not honoring someone else’s passions. Rather than imposing our beliefs on someone else, we need to listen more. After all, being heard and not being made to feel bad about the things we like are basic human needs.

  • Posted by Donna

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