… the amazing people who can give strength to spirits through their artwork? In Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, Sierra Santiago is a high school student looking forward to a relaxing summer with her friends and her art. It’s off to a great start when she finally gets up the courage to talk with Robbie, the cute Haitian boy who joined her school mid-year and is every bit as art-geeky as Sierra herself. Things take a turn for the weird though when a creepy dead guy shows up at a party looking for her. What is his connection to her abuelo, who is largely uncommunicative since his stroke several months ago? And why does Robbie seem to know so much about what is happening? Sierra will need to learn the truth about her heritage and who she can trust quickly if she’s going to survive.
This book is a great mix of coming-of-age and urban fantasy adventure. The reader learns about the secret world of art and magic with Sierra as she tries to find out what is happening to her beloved Bedford-Stuyvesant. Daniel Jose Older’s feelings about the neighborhood come through in his vivid descriptions of the people and places of Sierra’s world. Magic isn’t the only danger in an area tense with race relations and “just another shooting.” However, it also isn’t the only source of wonder when murals by local artists sprawl across buildings and the local salsa-thrasher band becomes a national hit. There’s a little something for everyone in this exciting, dynamic story.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)