Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!
About Reina Luz Alegre
Reina Luz Alegre lives in the Miami area with her family. She’s dreamed of becoming an author since the second grade, and grew up to work on various other professional dreams — including as a freelance journalist and lawyer — before debuting her first novel, The Dream Weaver. A Junior Library Guild Selection, The Dream Weaver is out now from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. When she’s not writing, Reina loves to read, sing and salivate over baking shows.
I am a big fan of Pop! Goes the Reader’s Her Story: Ladies in Literature series, and used to daydream about which protagonist I’d choose if the opportunity ever arose to participate. Yet when it did, the books I loved so much as a kid weren’t the ones that rushed to mind. And I was the kind of kid who checked out as many books as I could carry from the library and started devouring them the second I got home. I had a ton of literary heroines growing up.
Instead, the protagonists who flowed onto my Word doc when I first sat down to type this are both characters I’ve read fairly recently. Characters who I first met in this, my 2020 debut author year — which has been such a roller coaster of emotions — for so many, many reasons.
Zoe Washington from From The Desk of Zoe Washington and Lou Bulosan-Nelson from The House That Lou Built are my current literary heroines. Kindhearted, determined, resourceful twelve-year-olds who try everything possible to accomplish their goals.
In From The Desk of Zoe Washington, Zoe dreams of becoming a baker and will stop at nothing to find out the truth and overturn her father’s wrongful conviction. I loved Zoe’s single-minded dedication, her commitment to doing what was right, while also questioning everything she’s been told and confronting very realistic challenges. In addition to being a wonderfully absorbing, hopeful story, the book also provides serious insight into the devastating consequences of systemic racism.
In The House That Lou Built, Lou dreams of building her very own house and will stop at nothing to keep the land she inherited from her father. I adored Lou’s entire family. The tightrope Lou walked, trying to balance what she wanted with being supportive of her mom’s needs, was extremely relatable. I loved the warmth and love that resonated in each family interaction, and the way that same love and warmth infused Lou’s single-minded determination.
I am a big fan of Middle Grade Girls Who Refuse to Give Up.
For Zoey, the protagonist of my middle grade debut The Dream Weaver, quitting on the people she loves is never on option. Her mom passed away when she was a young girl, and she’s the peacekeeper between her irresponsible father and frustrated (very responsible) big brother. When her grandpa’s business is in danger of closing, she tries everything possible to help him save the bowling alley that he’s owned for decades. And when things don’t go as planned, instead of giving up, Zoey just changes the plan, broadens or tailors the goal. No matter what, she always finds a way to try to help her loved ones.
It’s funny because when I was a kid devouring my library stack, all I wanted to do was grow up as fast as possible. And now, as an adult, I’m so deeply inspired by the sweet, determined hopefulness of middle grade protagonists like Zoe Washington, Lou Bulosan-Nelson, and now that The Dream Weaver came out last month, it feels official to say Zoey Finolio too.
Title The Dream Weaver
Author Reina Luz Alegre
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date June 23rd 2020 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon ● Chapters ● The Book Depository ● Barnes & Noble ● IndieBound
Twelve-year-old Zoey navigates the tricky waters of friendship while looking for a way to save her grandfather’s struggling business in this heartwarming, coming-of-age debut novel perfect for fans of Kristi Wientge, Donna Gephart, and Meg Medina.
Zoey comes from a family of dreamers. From start-up companies to selling motorcycles, her dad is constantly chasing jobs that never seem to work out. As for Zoey, she’s willing to go along with whatever grand plans her dad dreams up — even if it means never staying in one place long enough to make real friends. Her family being together is all that matters to her.
So Zoey’s world is turned upside down when Dad announces that he’s heading to a new job in New York City without her. Instead, Zoey and her older brother, José, will stay with their Poppy at the Jersey Shore. At first, Zoey feels as lost and alone as she did after her mami died. But soon she’s distracted by an even bigger problem: the bowling alley that Poppy has owned for decades is in danger of closing!
After befriending a group of kids practicing for a summer bowling tournament, Zoey hatches a grand plan of her own to save the bowling alley. It seems like she’s found the perfect way to weave everyone’s dreams together…until unexpected events turn Zoey’s plan into one giant nightmare. Now, with her new friends counting on her and her family’s happiness hanging in the balance, Zoey will have to decide what her dream is — and how hard she’s willing to fight for it.