Review: Princess Academy

85990Princess Academy by Shannon Hale tells the story of a 14 year old girl named Miri Larendaughter. Miri lives in the village of Mount Eskel with her father Laren and her sister Marda. There, she struggles to fit in and feels isolated, because she has never been allowed to work in the quarry like the rest of the villagers due to an accident that left her motherless.

The only person who actually sees Miri for what she’s worth is Pedar Doterson, her childhood playmate and best friend. Pedar and Miri both share a secret affection for each other but it is not allowed to flourish because one day, a messenger from the king arrives and announces that the prince is to choose a bride from Mount Eskel. A “princess academy,” is created and the girls from the village are taken away for princess training.

At the academy, Miri outshines all the other girls and receives the title of academy princess. She is allowed the first dance with the prince and from that point onward, Miri experiences many changes and is faced with trying to figure out where her heart lies… Does she want a prince, or is she in love with Pedar? Can she leave her family behind? Even scarier, can she be a princess?

Princess Academy is a wonderful coming of age story, and it really calls attention to the themes of community, gender, and education. It’s empowering. It’s thrilling. And more importantly, it breathes hope and life into the hearts of anyone who reads the tale.

Gaby Orendain comments, “I remember really liking the book! To me, Miri was a strong but relatable character who did great things despite her ‘humble’ mountain origins. I liked how she started off as being small and shy, and then grew to be not only one of the best in the academy, but also someone who helped save the day!”

It’s hard to say why Miri Larendaughter is the great protagonist that she is without spoiling the story, but one things for sure: Miri breaks the norm. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,etc.  are damsels in distress and they needed a prince to come save them. And sure, Miri may start off as a damsel in distress, but she evolves so much throughout the story. However, in the end, she provides the saving. She saves the prince, she saves the village, and she grows up to be a real woman with strength, power, humility and big big heart.

Review: Esperanza Rising

51G3peGW7RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Esperanza Rising by Pam Muños Ryan is a touching book about a young girl, Esperanza, born in Aguascalientes, Mexico — the pride and joy of her family ranch, El Rancho de Las Rosas. Nearing the grape picking season, and Esperanza’s thirteenth birthday, a sudden turn of events leads to Esperanza’s father’s death, which sends her whole life quickly tumbling upside down. Her power-obsessed uncles burn down her house and the grapevines and plan to take over their whole estate. Esperanza and her family are forced to flee, but her childhood friend and servant, sixteen-year-old Miguel, and his family tell Esperanza and her mom that they plan to go to the United States. To Miguel and his family, it is a land full of opportunity, so they offer to take them along. In almost an instant, Esperanza goes from being a rich daughter of a Hacienda owner in Mexico to being a poor plantation worker in the United States. She realizes that she is no longer a member of the rich upper class, and is forever in debt to Miguel and his family.

Esperanza Rising counts the story of Esperanza’s journey in adjusting to her new life style, cope with the loss of her father, become a strong figure in her small worker household, all while trying to see the world differently than she ever had before. She sees an injustice in the treatment of herself and her fellow workers, and sickness and poverty in her own household.

Esperanza is amazed by the small details in life and the joy of Miguel’s prima. She admires the selflessness she sees in the women she sees everyday, her mother included, and learns to find the beauty in the people she meets and the land she tills and discovers. In Pam Muños Ryan’s beautifully crafted writing, this award-winning book shows the beauty of Hispanic tradition and spirit. Esperanza’s story is a life-changing that you will never forget!

Filled with many relatable proverbs (like the one below), and life advice about the ups and downs of life, this novel is sure to bring a tear or two to your eyes.

“Aguàntate tantito y la fruta caerà en tu mano.”
“Wait a little while and the fruit will fall into your hand.”

– Mexican Proverb 

For Esperanza, despite her hardship, the fruit did fall into her hand.The novel will remind you of the beautiful complex spirit of your Latina background.


Latina Authors You Should Know About

Julia de Burgos was a Puerto Rican poet who lived from February 17, 1914 to July 6, 1953. In addition to being a poet she was an advocate of Puerto Rico Independence and a civil rights activist for women and Afro-Caribbean writers. A celebrated poet, her most famous poem was “El Río Grande de Loíza” in where she personifies the river as a liberator. Julia de Burgos even had a position of power as the Secretary General of the Daughters of Liberty within the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.


Pat Mora is a writer of poetry, nonfiction and children’s books and an advocate of childhood literacy in Spanish speaking communities. She was born in January 19, 1942 in El Paso, TX. She got a a Master of Arts from The University of Texas at El Paso and has obtained two Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and the University of Buffalo. Her works are often themed at addressing Mexican American border relations.


Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American writer who has received critical acclaim by her memoire book, “How the García Girls Lost their Accents” (1991). She was born in New York on March 27, 1950, however she was raised in Dominican Republic for the first ten years of her life. She came from a wealthy family and was forced to relocate when her family participated in a failed attempt to overthrow the dictator Rafael Trujillo. She received her Masters from Syracuse University in 1975. Her writing style includes a hybrid of English and Spanish words and her literary works are themed of assimilation and incorporation. For this she is highly regarded as one of the most important Latina writers from the 20th century.


Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American writer who is mostly known for her critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel, “The House on Mango Street” (1984). She was born on December 20, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. While growing up, her family kept close transnational ties with family members from Mexico, for this reason she always found it hard to assimilate or to connect with one sole culture. She received her Bachelors from Loyola University in 1976 and her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa in 1978. Her books have helped young Mexican-Americans find the best cultural identification in a world that only allows them to pick one.


Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American novelist and short-story writer who is well-known for her magic-realist themed books like “The House of the Spirits” (1982) and “City of Beasts” (2002). She was born on August 2, 1942 in Lima, Peru to Chilean parents. Her father was at the time of her birth the second Secretary of the Chilean Embassy. When she was three, her father was kidnapped. Her mother then moved Allende’s siblings and her to Santiago, Chile. Her mother then remarried a future Chilean ambassador of Argentina. Isabel Allende was a well-read woman who knew how to speak English and Spanish. She married young and had two children. Isabel Allende’s daughter passed away in 1992 due to rare enzyme disorder. She wrote her heartbreaking narrative “Paula” in her daughter’s honor.


Gabriela Mistral was a Chilean poet, diplomat, educator and feminist. She was born Lucila Godoy Alcayaga on April 7, 1889. She was raised in a small and poor Andean village in Montegrande, and was taught at school by her oldest sister. After the formal education was completely she was allowed to become a teacher in 1900. At fifteen years old, she fell in love with a railway worker who later killed himself. This affected the nature of her poetry for the rest of her life. She climbed up the latter as an educator and poet and in 1921, she defeated the incumbent of the Radical Party, Josefina Dey del Castillo. Mistral was then named Director of Santiago’s Liceo. In addition to her time in public service she wrote two Poetry anthologies. She was the first Latin-American and fifth woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Gabriela Mistral passed away in January 10, 1957.


Denise Chavez is an Mexican-American playwright. She was born on November 8, 1953 in Las Cruces, NM. She received her Bachelors from New Mexico State University and Masters of Fine Arts from Trinity University. Her most notable play is Novitiates (1971). Denise Chavez received the Rockefeller Playwright Fellowship in 1985.


Ana Castillo is a Chicana writer. She was born to Mexican-American parents on June 15, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois. Her works often depict Socio-Political commentary on race and gender. Ana Castillo’s first book “The Mixquiahuala Letters”, received critical acclaim with a Carl Sandburg Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry.


Esmeralda Santiago is a Puerto Rican novelist, activist, and former actress. She was born on May 17, 1948 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Esmeralda Santiago’s book “When I was Puerto Rican” (1993) which detailed her home life in Puerto Rico.

Author Spotlight: Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri

Rubber Shoes… A Lesson in Gratitude by Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri is a children’s book which tells the tale of young Gladys Elizabeth. Gladys learns her first lesson of humility and gratitude at a ripe age, after her mother is unable to afford the shoes that Gladys has set her young, little heart on and buys her “ugly rubber shoes”. Gladys’s mother, however, finds a great way in helping Gladys appreciate what she has and in the end young Gladys learns a valuable lesson. Rubber Shoes… A Lesson in Gratitude received the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Latinitas had the honor to meet and interview Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri, here’s what she had to say about her life as an author:

Latinitas: Tell us about yourself.

Gladys: “When I was studying at the University of San Francisco, one of my favorite things was to look out my window and see the glorious Golden Gate Bridge. And it is in this great city that my family’s American life began.  In the early 1950’s las tías-abuelas came to San Francisco with a clear vision to lay down strong roots in this country. My mom later immigrated from El Salvador and my dad from Nicaragua. I was raised in a home where education was considered an invaluable gift. Being in excellence, both in character and in one’s work were daily reminders at the dinner table.  That’s probably why I work best when there is routine and structure. I am eternally grateful to my parents and family friends who were active participants in my childhood. I enjoy spending time with people who make me laugh out loud and as my dad calls them, los locos, the dreamers of life.”

Latinitas: How did you become an author?

Gladys: “My dad has always told me that I was a writer. Any time I wrote something, whether for school or for fun I would share my writing with him. Yet I never thought of myself as a writer. Thankfully, I’m finally getting to the place where I think perhaps I am a writer.  What I’m learning is that if you enjoy singing and you sing on a choir, then you are already a “singer”.  Or if you enjoy painting then you are already an “artist”. In other words, instead of waiting to “make it” so to speak, I just woke up and started sharing my writing to more people. And to my surprise, it’s been working out quite nicely.”

Latinitas: What did you do to prepare for this career?

Gladys: “This answer is tied to the response above.  I didn’t set out to become an author. However, in the last few years I started writing and sharing with more people and then things just started snowballing from there. I read lots of articles, mostly dealing with education. If the article really gets me going I share my thoughts with the people who I feel are supportive of me via email. My friends call it my “pseudo blog”.”

Latinitas: What is your favorite part of being an author?

Gladys: “So far my favorite part is sharing with little people, particularly with my first grade students. When Rubber Shoes was just a word document I read the story to them several times and I had them illustrate it. I’ve done the same with my second book, Pink Fire Trucks (coming summer 2013) and when I see how excited they get, I then get inspired to write more stories. It’s a symbiotic relationship where I fuel their creativity and they in turn fuel mine. I enjoy sharing the creative process with them because I feel that teachers have lost the freedom to teach using more creative avenues like art, music, dance and movement.”

Latinitas: What is the most challenging part of being an author?

Gladys: “I wish I had more time to write. My brother in law told me of a famous and established Latina author who goes to her “writing house” to write. WOW! I would love to have that kind of life!”

Latinitas: What advice would you give to help a girl prepare to be an author?

Gladys: “Join groups where you can hone your writing skills. Keep a writing journal and set time aside to write. Also, volunteer to intern for the local paper or TV station. Read lots of books and materials, start a blog or a “pseudo blog” and share your views and commentaries with your friends and family. In the story PINK FIRE TRUCKS the big message is to do things with heart. It will make for a happy soul. But most importantly, enjoy the process without any expectations.”

Latinitas: What do you do for fun when you aren’t working? What volunteer projects do you do?

Gladys: “When I was cool and younger I would go dancing Wednesday through Sunday! These days I fall asleep by 10:30 p.m., so quiet dinners with loved ones and great conversation is fun. I jog which relaxes me and I recently started up yoga again. Now I’m on a mission to be a yoga star. As for volunteering, I don’t necessarily volunteer but I do donate proceeds of Rubber Shoes to the reading intervention program where I work.  I went to a workshop where I declared that I wished I had oodles of money to do philanthropic work in the field of early literacy. I was told to start giving, even if it’s just peanuts because the positive energy behind giving makes things happen.  I also participate in Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California events.  Their mission is to promote literacy and motivate children to read by building at-home libraries for underserved children in Greater Los Angeles. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to give oodles and oodles of money to the organizations that I admire.”

Latinitas: Why did you choose the lesson of gratitude for your book?

Gladys: “Rubber Shoes is based on a true event that happened when I was a little girl and in this story I learned a powerful lesson in gratitude.  Still, I sometimes forget how perfectly wonderful my life is just the way it is.  It seems that when I start to complain, everything falls apart, mostly because I keep looking at situations with a pessimistic eye.  When I live in a state of gratitude, things tend to fall in place and situations get better”


Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri’s upcoming book, PINK FIRE TRUCKS, comes out this summer.

Book Review: Getting Beyond “Whatever”

Our main form of communication is verbal. The way we express ourselves with our word choice expresses who we are. Dr. Shale Preston’s book, Getting Beyond Whatever, explains how teenagers use the specific word, “whatever,” to show an apathetic attitude towards life. Getting Beyond Whatever creates different outlets for a new way of thinking. It begins with A for Affirmations, or positive statements, then goes through the whole alphabet while using affirmations toward describing positive values.

About the Author:
Before delving into the content of the book, Shale Preston, PhD, is equipped and accredited in lecturing on self-development, spirituality and literature. Preston’s doctorate is in English Literature, and she holds the title of honorary associate at Macquarie University’s English Department in Sydney,  Australia.

From A -Z
The English professor creates a way for the reader to go through the book whenever the need for encouragement occurs. From looking up something directly or reading the book from its introduction to its notes, the reader will find guidelines that help with the content of the book. By breaking up the sections with inspirational words representing each letter  of the alphabet, the audience can gain a better reading experience to channel into their lives.

Adios, whatever!
The book revolves around different ways to express yourself without using the word whatever. Preston advises the reader to first tackle the affirmations for yourself, then pass them on to others. Some of my favorite or most interesting letters of the alphabet described in the book are those that deal with social, spiritual, economical, work ethics, love, and the self. For example, Preston describes N for Name, and advises to call people by their names, then adds an explanation stating how “people are so much more responsive when you call them by their names.” Preston uses G for Give and explains “give to yourself and to others” urging the reader to create more comfortable surroundings.
The spiritual take on the book includes L for listening to the universe and M for Meditate. Both help the reader become in tune with themselves. From an economical perspective, Preston describes the importance of life through S for saving and J for Jettison, or letting go of all the material possessions you don’t need. For her work ethic advice, Preston describes O for own, and tells the reader to own a task and see through its completion, even if it’s small.
When working on yourself and others, Preston proposes to first have love, in a sense of dealing with respect. She uses E to Embrace who you are, and encourages reading, labeled under R, and exercise labeled under Workout. With the help from many of these affirmations, Preston’s optimistic intent is understood as she uses various popular culture and  media references.

Preston uses Media influences to help create an optimistic mindset with Instances of Whatever in the media that possibly helped shape society. The movie Clueless, popular 90’s movie of a California valley girl, although not mentioned in the book, comes to mind because the audience can tell the character’s emotional ride as a teenager is being covered by the simple use of whatever accompanied by an eyeroll. Preston stresses the importance of social interaction and its effect on your emotions.  The way you choose to communicate with another person shows a lot about your character. The more you use apathetic communication the more confused emotions build up inside and can possibly ruin relationships.

When asked about her use of the word whatever and if there was another way to express it, Melissa Rivas replied, “I don’t think so, it’s [whatever] such a natural word to say, it goes with any situation.”

Bianca Castrejon commented on why some teens use the word by stating, “maybe they have something else to say when they want to seem indifferent.”

Getting Beyond Whatever helps the reader create tools to better their self-esteem and widen their relationships with others. The introduction states, “The kindest thing that we can do for ourselves and by extension others is to think and speak words which are positive and life enhancing.” There are many ways to get out of a slump, and the first is to work out is how you see yourself and relate it to the way you see the world.

Book Review: A Kid’s Guide To Latino History

I call myself a Latina because I am of Mexican descent, but Mexican history and traditions are the extent of my Hispanic knowledge. Of course there are the commonly known events in Latino culture which may make into textbooks or common knowledge among Americans such as Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, the fact that the Portuguese in the official language in Brazil, and Puerto Rico’s music. If you’re not taking a Latin American course or something of the like, the confines of your national heritage will most likely be all you that know. There are so  many Latin American countries out there with so much rich history, making it difficult to fully know every detail. Our Latino culture is what connects many of us and that is why knowledge of more than one country can benefit and help us move forward as a minority. Valerie Portillo is the author of A Kid’s Guide to Latino History, which is a text book for children that incorporates mostly every aspect of Latino history, culture, and its impact on the United States and the world. There are ten chapters and each of them contains a brief history, important events, traditions, celebrations, fun facts, translations, and do it yourself crafts for kids!
A Kid’s Guide to Latino History helped me realize how different Latin American cultures and traditions are while still having many similarities. The book highlights many recipes, crafts, holiday traditions and cultural celebrations that reflect the diverse Latino community. In the book, we learn how to make arroz con leche (rice with milk, pudding) described as a Dominican dessert. I grew up eating arroz con leche in a Mexican household. I also remember making bread figurines that are described as Ecuadorian. The cultural mesh the book introduces can be applied to all aspects of a Latin American lifestyle where we can all learn and take from each other. Although there are so many traditions, crafts and recipes to be shared and learned, each country still has their own distinct culture and their own way of doing things. For example, we learn how Hondurans created their own game with seeds, Mexicans have their own form of bingo, and Nicaraguans have their own type of dance.
My favorite parts of the book are the well explained history lessons that were easy to follow. We learn about the people of the native lands, the Spanish invasions of practically every Latin country and the country’s attempt to take back their land. The reader also learns more about the relationship between the US and Latin America. For example, it was interesting to find out how communism impacted many Latin American countries. Although the idea of communism is said to have come from Europe and was made to be seemingly harmless, there was a political misuse of the concepts in some countries.
The US began using force to keep communism out of its neighboring lands, helped put down many revolutions, and fought a guerrilla warfare. After many of these Latin American countries were left in economic despair, people began migrating north to the US in search of a safer and more comfortable life. We then learn how each country assimilated into the US and how many different boroughs and neighborhoods created a cultural niche. Much like the diverse Chinatowns existing around the US, I learned that places such as Washington Heights and Calle Ocho began blossoming as a safe haven for many Latin American Immigrants.The book displays the progression of Latin American Countries and their association to the US in a hands-on and entertaining way. I would recommend A Kid’s Guide to Latino History to any elementary teacher or family member who is interested in learning about history, and the history of Latin America; it was definitely a great and educational read.

Book Review: Marcelo in the Real World

Book Review by Alexis Garcia

What is the title of the book you are reviewing?
Marcelo in the Real World.

Who is the author of the book?
Francisco X. Stork.

What would you rate the book?
5 stars: Excellent book!

What is this book about? (Tell us about the theme of the book and major highlights. Please don’t give away the ending!)
Well the book centers around a 17-year-old Mexican boy named Marcelo with an autism spectrum disorder. In this book, Marcelo is forced to work in his overbearing father’s law firm because his father wants him to adapt to the “real world,” instead of working with ponies like Marcelo wanted to. A lot of crazy things happen in this story. A lot of the characters belittle Marcelo because they find him stupid, even though he is actually smart. Marcelo soon faces many obstacles and becomes close friends with a woman named Jasmine who shares a love for music like he does. Marcelo has a special way of hearing music.

What did you like about the book?
I like how the book was told from Marcelo’s perspective, his imagery and the fact that he speaks in the third person. I also like the closeness between him and Jasmine. She is almost overprotective of him. I like how Marcelo changes and grows throughout the story and learns how to stand up for himself, and make his own decisions.

Who was your favorite character in the book and why?
Automatically, I liked Marcelo. But I also liked Jasmine. She was rude, stubborn, and kept to herself mostly in the beginning. Throughout the story Marcelo grew on her and she began to open up to him. She even took him camping, and I just believed that they were extremely cute together. I like how she tried to make him feel as comfortable as possible.

What didn’t you like about the story or the writing style?
Well I can’t say what I didn’t like about the book because then it would reveal part of the ending.

What other books would you recommend?
I would also recommend The Boy Who Couldn’t Die by William Sleator.

Start It Up Book Review

Good news for all you Latinitas out there who aspire book cover start it upto be ambitious businesswomen, entrepreneurs, marketing experts, CEOS, or who just want to make more money. You don’t have to wait until after college to turn your talents and ideas into hard-earned cash. You can start today! The Start It Up! business handbook for teens by Kenrya Rankin gives you the essential tools and information needed to create your own business.

Not sure what services or merchandise you could possibly offer? No problem. Rankin includes a quiz to help you identify what your skill sets might be. Throughout the book, Rankin will guide you on how to, not only get your business started, but how to network and gain support, manage your money, be a boss, use your business to do good and more!

Through her tips, worksheets, online resources, informational charts, and real-life testimonials from teenage entrepreneurs, Rankin not only makes owning a business an exciting venture, but a doable one as well. Whether you’re bored at your regular job or your allowance just isn’t cutting it these days, Start It Up! is sure to promote you to business savvy in under 160 pages.

Book Review: Dear Bully

Dear Bully is a book by Megan Kelley Hall & Carrie Jones. This book was inspired by a tragic event that happened on January 14, 2010 related to bullying.  That year in Massachusetts (hometown of the author of the book) a girl name Phoebe Prince committed suicide after months of being bullied by nine students of South Hadley High School. When this news came out, Megan Kelley was shocked to see how far all this bullying has gone. She decided to bring different authors together and tell their stories about how they were bullied, being a bully or witness bullying.

This book speaks for itself. Megan Kelley and Carrie Jones wrote an amazing book that is full of emotional, interesting, sad, and shocking stories about bulling. The 70 authors in this book have shared their stories; some are heartbreaking, others are more uplifting. This book makes you feel stronger the more you read it.

There are a lot of different stories that will shock you and even make you feel bad for that person. This book has stories not only about girls, but guys as well that were bullied when they were younger.

The story from Marlene Perez is kind of similar to the Mean Girls movie. One day she found one of her friend’s books, forgotten at the school gym.  It was called a “slam book” and it was filled with people talking about other people (including her). When she opened it, she found out that a lot of people were talking about her and making things up. What hurt her most was when she recognized the handwriting of her “friend” in that book talking about how she had big boobs, but such a small brain. She felt hurt and betrayed to see how this person whom she thought was her friend showed her true colors. Marlene couldn’t stop thinking of how she thought they were friends but in reality, weren’t. When her friend came, she had a look of panic on her face. Marlene asked if she lost something, but she said she didn’t. Marlene then said, “Yeah, I thought I lost something, too, turns out I never even had it!”

There’s also stories like Grace, where she thought love existed. This story tells how Grace faced the fake side of what she thought was her love. Gabe was her boyfriend of over 8 months; they spent pretty much all their time together at her house playing, laughing, and taking sexy pictures of themselves with their phones to send them to each other when they were away. She was away on a trip with her parents when she started seeing pictures of her boyfriend with other girls at parties. A couple of days passed and Gabe wasn’t answering her text messages; girls who appeared on the pictures with him started friend requesting Grace on Facebook and posting really mean words on her wall such as “fat,” “ugly,” and “skank.” These girls were saying they saw her naked pictures in her boyfriend’s phone. She was sad and couldn’t stop crying; she hated herself for everything. All she could think was, “I can’t believe that I trusted stupidly in Gabe.”

Stories like these can be similar to events that we may be living through this moment. This book is perfect for someone who is being bullied, being the bully, or a witness. Young people and adults need to read Dear Bully because it actually teaches a lot about the subject. This book shows that you are not alone, that there are people out there who you can turn to for help and that you should not let yourself down.  It’s a very powerful book that will have anyone who reads it wondering how they can get help.

Dear Bully captures the stories of 70 famous authors.  These people were bullied and survived to become successful people now. Their traumatic bulling experiences are left behind, but they made them who they are today. If they became successful after their bullying experience, then others can learn from this and overcome their obstacles as well.  Bullying happens because we see others as more powerful than we are.  There is something stronger than any punch in the face; a rumor or being called a name can sting just as badly. Your voice can help you stop a bully.  Speak loudly, stand up for yourself, encourage yourself to be brave and don’t let anyone bring you down.

Meet Author Melinda Palacio

Working in the journalism world with a steady career, Melinda Palacio felt there was more for her to do in life. When moving to Arizona, her aspiration to become a novelist became a reality.

“Writing found me. I have worked as a reporter, a writing instructor, an editor, and various other jobs before I decided to dedicate myself to writing,” said author Melinda Palacio.

Before beginning her writing career, Palacio earned two degrees, a Bachelor’s from Berkeley in Comparative Literature and a Masters from UC Santa Cruz.

Palacio admits that despite her skills and experience she faced difficulties in the novel-writing process. When writing “Ocotillo Dreams,” there were moments when she would feel lost.

Palacio got involved with the program PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. This prestigious literary fellowship helped her gain necessary skills and the confidence she needed. It helped her finish her first draft for her novel.

She encourages others to strive to do better and to do what they love. “Read a variety of books and subjects. Write in your journal if only for a few minutes every day. Do what you love and experience life to the fullest,” said Palacio.

When Palacio is not writing or reading, she can be seen doing other things she loves like “listening to music, dancing, reading, spending time with friends and family.”

To catch a copy of her novel, “Ocotillo Dreams” check out your local library or her website: