Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs is a novel about Petra, a child attempting to journey across the border between Mexico and the United States with her grandmother and baby brother during the Mexican Revolution.

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The summary, from Amazon:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month!
“Wrenching debut about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on.”
Booklist, starred review ★
“Vital and perilous and hopeful.”
—Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee

Based on a true story, the tale of one girl’s perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution

It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left—her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito—until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.

Each night when Petra closes her eyes, she holds her dreams close, especially her long-held desire to learn to read. Abuelita calls these barefoot dreams: “They’re like us barefoot peasants and indios—they’re not meant to go far.” But Petra refuses to listen. Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.

“Dobbs’ wrenching debut, about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on, illuminates the harsh realities of war, the heartbreaking disparities between the poor and the rich, and the racism faced by Petra and her family. Readers will love Petra, who is as strong as the black-coal rock she carries with her and as beautiful as the diamond hidden within it.”—Booklist, starred review

Buy Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna here.

This historical fiction novel was very moving. I will note there is a lot of trauma and sadness. Petra has a ton of responsibility for a 12-year-old. There were times I grew frustrated when adults in her life seemed to expect even more from her, that she might be a bride in a year or a child soldier. Caring for her grandmother and baby brother as they try to flee to safety is hard enough work. But this was the reality many children faced during the Mexican Revolution and to some degree still face today when trying to migrate from one country to another.
I loved that the backmatter in this one included a timeline. Not all readers will be familiar with the Mexican Revolution. Even though I am familiar, I still found the timeline to be helpful.
This was a really excellent, moving story. I have to give 5 stars to Petra Luna.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra LunaBarefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


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Book Club Questions

  1. Why did Petra consider becoming a soldier?
  2. Do you think Petra should have become a soldier? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think it would be like to have to leave behind everything you loved and flee to another country?
  4. Are there similar situations to Petra’s going on today, over a hundred years later?

Interested? Buy Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna.
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