‘Becoming Naomi Leon’ Steals Everyone’s Attention

It’s not easy growing up with the name Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw, but she doesn’t let the kids teasing her get the best of her. They lived with their great-grandmother, who they called Gram. Naomi has trouble speaking up is school and is teased because of her last name, and Owen has some kind of disability, that is not identified, but it seems to be a physical one because he is said to be very smart and can beat everyone at checkers with very few moves. They are basically happy with their lives until their mother shows up one day, wanting to be a part of their lives. She shows favoritism to Naomi, and soon it is apparent that she wants Naomi to come live with her and her boyfriend in Las Vegas and not Owen. Gram is suspicious so they take off and go to Mexico to find the children’s father. He helps Naomi see who she is and he helps them fight their mother in court for custody. There it was again, the good and bad all rolled into a meatball.

There it was again, the good and bad all rolled into a meatball.

— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Becoming Naomi León

I had jumped into this book thinking I would be underwhelmed, but it was amazing. The way it gives a window into a young child’s mind and lets you truly see everything as it appears to her perspective. You will feel like you’re ten years old again when reading it. Everything that scares Naomi, scares you; and everything that makes her happy, makes you happy too.

The book itself was intense with a lot of things happening to the characters. I loved all the twists and turns that kept me hooked, making it feel like one giant rollercoaster. I wanted to keep finding out what was going to happen with Naomi. It showed me how grateful I am to have wonderful parents to look up to. The author, Pam Munoz Ryan quickly became one of my favorite authors.

Throughout the story, Naomi faces different changes that give her more confidence and teach her to speak up for herself. This book is such a great book for children and adults to read. As a young adult, I found this book to be so uplifting. This is a genuine story of a young woman trying to make sense of her life and why her parents are not in it like normal kids.

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She struggles with the same struggles kids face in today’s schools, which is bullying. She is trying to find herself and become a stronger person. This book could relate to so many people and help students realize that even if they are that shy person that they can become a strong individual and stand up for what they believe in. I think that this is the message of the book. To be who you are and fight for what you want and what you believe in and what is in the best interest of yourself. This book taught me that you need to speak up if you really want things to change. You need to take control of your own life, and you need to make sure that you always stand up for yourself.

One interesting aspect of this book is the chapter titles are all different groups of animals, most of which are touched on in some way in that chapter. It is like Esperanza Rising where the chapters were all fruit and vegetable crops.

This is a powerful story about family, acceptance, culture, and empowerment. I admired the way this story showed the warmth and strength of an alternative family structure. I would recommend this book to everyone since it was a really great story with a heartwarming ending.