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The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez: 08/29/20
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas is a reimagining of la tule vieja. Cuban American Nestor Lopez and his mother have moved to his paternal grandmother's house. Nestor is used to moving, having moved multiple times in his short life because of his father's military career, but this is his first time living off base.
Nestor's new home is a tiny Texas town with more wildlife than people. The woods give him a chance to sketch. He's an artist and he has the ability to talk to animals. It's through the animals that he first learns that something is wrong.
When a main character has a unique power in an otherwise realistic setting, often they're forced to keep their talent a secret. The plots are then situationally driven. Will the m.c. be caught this time? What lie will they have to tell? Refreshingly, not here. Nestor has more important things to worry about, as do his new friends.
This novel also has a Troll Hunter vibe to it. Like the Dreamworks series, The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez has strangers coming together as friends and heroes. It has a redemption arc for the school bully. It has positive family interactions and support, while still allowing the teen main characters to be the heroes. And everything is ticking down to a total solar eclipse, when the town will either be lost or saved.
Finally, Nestor's journey to embrace the potential of his power and to accept this small town as his actual home, sits on the road narrative spectrum. Nestor and his friends all have some skill or piece of knowledge that are needed to beat la tule vieja. Thus they are privileged travelers (00). The clues and ultimate showdown are deep in the forest, or in RNS terms, the wildlands (99). The route is fraught with danger, traps, and misdirection — a maze (CC). Thus The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez is the tale of privileged travelers going to the wildlands via the maze to save their family, their pets, and their town (0099CC).