Every book has its place and its audience. Although The Queen of Water is fiction, it’s based on a true story and it read like a biography. I think readers who enjoy biographies and those who have an interest in learning about different cultures will be most drawn to it. You’ll see many of my book commentary’s (I shy away from calling them reviews) revolve around the expectation I had going in and whether the book delivered. I came at the story focused more on its fictional aspects, but walked away feeling like I’d just read a biography. That led to a slight disconnect.
The Queen of Water is well-written and young readers will definitely be exposed to a very different world than they live in. Books are great for that, in general, and Queen doesn’t disappoint. The story of Virginia Farinango is an interesting one. An indigenous Indian given away by her parents to an upper class family, the reader witnesses the cruelties of classism and the conflict it causes in young people. However, as YA fiction it didn’t meet its mark of appealing to my inner teen. Primarily because a large majority of the book took place between when Virginia was age 7 and about eleven or twelve.
I can see The Queen of Water as a great companion piece during a social studies/history lesson on indigenous cultures for middle schoolers. I’ve often felt fiction could be a good tool to help round out the real lessons of history, if used correctly. Queen would work best if framed in that realm as opposed to being book talked as straight YA fiction.