Yakimali's Gift by Linda Covella
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
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Synopsis: It is 1775 in Mexico, New Spain, and 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, half Pima Indian and half Spanish, can't seem to live up to her mother's expectations or fit into the limited female roles of her culture. While she tends her garden, matches wits with buyers and sellers at the weekly market, and avoids Mama's lectures and the demands of Nicolas, the handsome soldier pursuing her, Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves, racing across the desert, dreaming of adventure in faraway lands.
But when a tragic accident presents her with the adventure she longed for, it is at a greater cost than she could have ever imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza's historic colonization expedition to California.
On the arduous four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, the young widow Fernanda can entrust with her deepest thoughts; Gloria, who becomes the sister Fernanda always wished for; and Gloria's handsome brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo, half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel's layers of hidden feelings, she's torn between him and Nicolas, who has joined the journey in the ranks of Anza's soldiers and whose plans include marrying Fernanda when they reach California.
But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama's Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.
My Review: Yakimali’s Gift tells the story of Fernanda, a mestizo, that embarks on a colonial expedition from Mexico to California. Along the way, Fernanda finds herself drawn to her Pima roots and wants to learn the truth about her mother’s past. Fernanda also ponders her future about what she wants to do when they arrive in California and if she should marry her fiance, Nicolas, a Spanish soldier. Therefore, this is a coming-of-age tale as Fernanda goes on a quest for self-discovery and acceptance.
Fernanda’s relationship with her mother is the main theme of this story. Fernanda and her mother had an argument and Fernanda said cruel words to her mother. Before she could reconcile with her mother, her mother suddenly dies. Feeling regret for how she treated her mother, Fernanda decides to make it up to her by finding out the truth of her mother’s broken relationship with her own grandmother. Throughout this novel, Fernanda deals with the pain and loss of her mother. She wonders if her mother is happy in the afterlife and if her mother is proud of her. Because of her mother’s death, she finds herself drawn to her mother’s Pima heritage. She soon finds herself proud of her heritage, and that her Pima heritage links her with her mother.
Fernanda is an average young girl. She wants to please her parents and to follow their expectations to marry Nicolas and to be a wife. Yet, she has doubts. She is uncertain of her future and ponders if this is the right choice for her. She ponders if being a good wife is the key to her happiness. Fernanda is constantly pressure by her family and society, but over time she finds her independence. Fernanda is described as wild. Yet she yearns for freedom and the ability to make her own choices. She is also passionate, caring, and loving. She is the rock of her family. Fernanda is also brave and courageous. Because of these attributes, she captures the attention of the mysterious, brooding, and sullen Miguel.
Overall, this book is about family, friendship, loss, love, regrets, choices, and hope. The message of this book is to be proud of your heritage and to follow your heart. Even though the plot is pretty predictable, and has an angsty love triangle, the heart of the story is a mother and daughter relationship. I recommend this book to anyone interested U.S. history and culture. I also think this book is a great read for anyone coping over the death of a loved one. For Fernanda is on a personal quest to find happiness after the loss of her mother.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Praise for Yakimali's Gift
Linda Covella brings the early settlement of California to life in this tale of adventure, drama, romance, and mystery.The novel is full of imagination and wisdom and speaks to the universal need of young people to rebel and to find the courage to invent their own lives. - Dr. Virginia M. Bouvier, author of Women and the Conquest of California
Yakimali's Gift is written for the young, the old, and everyone in between. It is about a young girl named Fernanda, and her adventure in 1775, when King Carlos III of Spain ordered Juan Bautista de Anza to lead an expedition of settlers from Mexico to California. This book is written with such detail I felt like I could reach out and touch the desert sand, or pet the beautiful horses:) The other characters in this book are just as wonderful as Fernanda. You can't help but feel their pain or smile when there happy. Linda is an excellent writer, she grabs you from the beginning and takes you on an exciting adventure. This is a story you can read and then pass along to your daughter, that means a lot to me as my thirteen year-old usually can't read the books Im asked to review. I recommend this book to everyone! ~Tanya Watt, reviewer/designer
Quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award:
The dialogue, character development, and historical details all serve the story and come together seamlessly...Although tagged as Young Adult...would also appeal to adult readers.
~Amazon ABNA Judge
Clear and imaginative writing. Excellent eye for descriptive detail. I am feeling a very strong sense of place as you describe the scenes...
~Amazon ABNA Judge
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About the Author
Linda Covella's varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.
A writer for over 30 years, her first official publication was a restaurant review column in a local newspaper, and as a freelance writer, she continued to publish numerous articles in a variety of publications. But when she published articles for children's magazines (Games and Toys in Ancient Rome and Traveling the Tokaido in 17th Century Japan, in Learning Through History magazine, and Barry's Very Grown Up Day in Zootles magazine), she realized she'd found her niche: writing for children. She wants to share with kids and teens her love of books: the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.
Yakimali's Gift, a historical novel for young adults published by Astraea Press, and middle grade paranormal The Castle Blues Quake published by Beau Coup Publishing are her first novels.
No matter what new paths she may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.
She is a member of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She blogs about writing on her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.