Sonia Manzano may be most famously known for playing the character of Maria on Sesame Street, but she can also add to the roster of her credits: YA Lit author. With the publication of her novel, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,” Manzano shows what life in Harlem in the late 1960s is like, especially for one Puerto Rican who is trying to understand herself, her family, her culture, and where all of these things fit in the world.
When she meets her sassy grandmother for the first time, she starts to hear the stories of her own Latino culture. At the same time, events in her neighborhood explode in a way that no one expected. When the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican activist group comes to the area, they set the street’s garbage on fire, take over the local church, and inspire a community to come forth and band together.
Evelyn begins to define who she is on her own terms, even with her mother and grandmother fighting over what they think she should believe in.
Manzano infuses this novel with actual news accounts from 1969. Her pacing will keep readers turning the pages, while watching Evelyn’s struggle unfold. Our main character’s internal conflict helps to define who she is while she also deals with the external conflict of her family and her neighborhood.
This is a not-to-be-missed read, with a glimpse into Spanish Harlem in the late 1960s, not to mention one girl’s evolution in the midst of a revolution.