The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

by Sonia Manzano

Fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano gets caught between her meek, mild-mannered mother... read more

Fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano gets caught between her meek, mild-mannered mother and her fiery, activist grandmother when a group calling itself the Young Lords begins advocating for social change in Spanish Harlem in 1969. The neighborhood is neglected by the city—even garbage pickup is irregular—and many residents struggle to make ends meet. Evelyn’s abuela arrives from Puerto Rico just as the Young Lords are gearing up for action. Abuela has been a political activist most of her adult life. Evelyn is at first a bit embarrassed and then inspired by her grandmother’s brassiness and her courage. She sees little to admire in her own mother, who spends her days and nights working in her stepfather’s store, cooking, cleaning, and nursing her dream of someday owning a house in the Bronx. Vivid descriptions of the time and place, wonderful character development, and realistic family tensions ground this vibrant story about a fictional family caught up in actual events: The Young Lords were real, and they really did occupy a church in the neighborhood, demanding space to provide social services for neighborhood residents. Evelyn and her grandmother become part of that occupation. To Evelyn’s surprise, so too does her mother—at first to make sure Evelyn is safe, but eventually she becomes—in her own quiet way—part of the push for change. Evelyn discovers that her mother’s strength is not relentless activism but emotional constancy—one of the few things she discovers Abuela is incapable of providing. (Age 12 and older)


© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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