The Call of the Swamp by Davide Cali, illustrated by Marco Somà

The Call of the Swamp

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: FictionChildren’s Literature

Medium: ARC, paperback

Synopsis: Boris is normal.  He goes to school, rides his bike, and eats with his family.  Until one day, he stumbles upon a swamp.  And the swamp feels more right to him than his home ever did…so where does he truly belong?

Review: I am so glad to have gotten my greedy little hands on this advanced reader copy.  I’ve never been so enamored by a children’s book.  The drawings, the content, the axolotl???  I’m in love.  I’m definitely going to purchase this once it comes out in September.

This book has enraptured me for many reasons, but the main one is certainly because Boris is between two places, two cultures–essentially, he is in la mestiza, a place coined by Gloria Anzaldua.  Sorry to get super analytical in this review, but this is one of my favorite theoretical terms!  Boris is from the swamp, but he grows up as a regular boy.  But when he rediscovers the swamp, though it feels right, it doesn’t feel quite right, because he’s been socialized as a boy.  Because of this, he’s placed in la mestiza, a place in between his two homes, having been socialized by both.

Many are forced to think of themselves as one thing or another–as a member of your culture, or as a member of your country.  For Gloria Anzaldua, la mestiza was a place between Texas and Mexico, where she was constantly influenced by both cultures, unable to decide exactly where she belonged.  For Boris, he’s between his house and the swamp.

As his parents send him supportive letters, hoping he’s happy, he’s out discovering himself.  Boris wonders how he can fit into both places at once, or how to even properly and fully fit into one place.  But it’s his journey of finding an answer that truly makes this story so endearing and enriching.  I highly suggest this book for anyone struggling with identity, and for any parent of an adopted child.  You will not regret it.

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