I read The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind awhile back but the story’s poetic power and tones of magical realism have had the story simmering in my mind since then. Meg Medina does a good job of crafting a profound young adult story with motifs reminiscent of the magical realism that Latin American literature is famous for.
“The tempest – like the birth – raged on for hours. But when at last Sonia Ocampo slipped into the world, blue and shivering, the wind miraculously ceased and the river calmed, leaving behind a peaceful and starry night.”
Sonia Ocampo, born into the world with the end of a destructive storm, is hailed by the villagers as a Godsend. She is the idealistic image on which they pin all their hopes – quite literally, too: Sonia is cloaked in a shawl on which are pinned all the gold metal tokens that the villagers have given to her in exchange for her prayers on their behalf. Sonia feels burdened by their beliefs, and her inability to fulfil everyone’s expectations.
The YA themes of identity, freedom and familial obligations can all be found in this novel. Teenagers will especially be able to relate to the constant tug of war between doing what’s right for you, and doing what others think is right for you.
“She only knew what she did not want to be. Not magic. Not lonely. Not trapped. Never once had she thought of what she did want, never imagined a future the way Lara did.”
Sonia’s quiet strength is the shining beacon in this novel. She feels the need to break free, but she doesn’t try to do so at the expense of raging against her parents, or by belittling their hopes and beliefs. She has a respect for their reasoning which I could appreciate. Too many stories pit adolescents against their parents in coming of age stories; it’s refreshing to read YA novels where the protagonist can appreciate their parents for the individuals they are.