Alegria, Malin 1974(?)–

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Alegria, Malin 1974(?)–

Personal

Born c. 1974, in San Diego, CA. Education: University of California at Santa Barbara, B.A., M.A. (education). Religion: Taoist. Hobbies and other interests: Aztec dancing, working in garden education.

Addresses

Home—CA; Albuquerque, NM. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer, educator, school-gardening consultant, and performer.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Traditional Native American Farmer's Association.

Awards, Honors

Named San Francisco (CA) Library laureate, 2008; Latinostories.com Top-Ten Author to Watch designation, 2008.

Writings

Estrella's Quinceañera, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of short fiction to anthologies, including Once upon a Cuento and 15 Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and Other Quinceañera Stories.

Sidelights

"Humor is how I like to express myself," teacher and writer Malin Alegria told Bonnie O'Brian in an interview for the California Readers Web site. "If you can make someone laugh. As a child I learned that humor is a great way to inspire, teach, and entertain audiences. That lesson has stuck with me and influences my work today." Alegria's work includes the coming-of-age novels Estrella's Quinceañera and Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico.

In Estrella's Quinceañera readers meet soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Estrella Alvarez, a scholarship student at a San Jose private school. Estrella is anticipating her quinceañera—a traditional Mexican coming-of-age party—with some trepidation because her overly ambitious mother and aunt plan to turn the party into an EVENT, complete with lavish decorations, a mariachi band, and a puffy orange dress. The teen is convinced that her Anglo school friends will find the occasion tacky; meanwhile, her old friends from the barrio look at her as a bit of a snob. Estrella's attempt to keep her barrio roots a secret from her wealthy school friends becomes even more difficult when she falls for Speedy, a Mexican-American teen who she knows will be viewed with disapproval by both her friends and her tradition-minded parents. In her fictional exploration of Mexican-American teen culture, Alegria portrays "moving between worlds with poignant, sharp-sighted humor and authentic dialogue," according to Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg. In School Library Journal Melissa Christy Buron praised Estrella's Quinceañera as "fast paced, with engaging and likable characters," adding that Estrella's "journey through the maze of culture and class is deftly handled." Alegria's debut novel "may attract a wide Hispanic audience," concluded Kliatt reviewer Amanda MacGregor, the critic adding that the book gains "great general appeal" because the effort of its teen protagonist "to find her own identity is … something most teens can relate [to]."

Alegria revisits the coming-of-age theme in Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, a novel praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer as a "smart and engaging story about a hidden issue." Based on a true incident, Alegria's tale takes readers along with southern California high school senior Sofi Mendoza as she sneaks out of her parents' house for a quick trip to Tijuana and gets stuck across the border in Mexico. While her friends have no problem returning to the States, Sofi's green card turns out to be a fake and she is stopped by border guards. While the Mexican-born teen is welcomed into the village home of a distant aunt, Tia Luisa, Sofi's parents—who are not legal U.S. citizens—fight for their daughter's return. In addition to illustrating the immigration dilemma from a unique perspective, Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico benefits from what Buron deemed "emotional and engaging" writing. In Kliatt, Janis Flint-Ferguson noted the maturation of Alegria's protagonist as she "comes to terms with who she really is and what she has to offer in both cultures." "Views of Mexican life beyond the tourist beaches are welcome and rare in YA novels," concluded Engberg, adding that "Sofi's bumpy search for herself will resonate with teens of all backgrounds."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, p. 65.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2006, Hope Morrison, review of Estrella's Quinceañera, p. 438; July-August, 2007, Katrina Bromann, review of Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, p. 450.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of Estrella's Quinceañera, p. 285.

Kliatt, May, 2007, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, p. 5; July, 2007, Amanda MacGregor, review of Estrella's Quinceañera, p. 22.

School Library Journal, April, 2006, Melissa Christy Buron, review of Estrella's Quinceañera, p. 133; June, 2007, Melissa Christy Buron, review of Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico, p. 138.

ONLINE

Malin Alegria Home Page,http://www.malinalegria.com (May 20, 2008).

California Readers Web site,http://www.californiareaders.org/ (May 20, 2008), Bonnie O'Brian, interview with Alegria.

Pulse Blogfest Web site,http://www.pulseblogfest.com/ (March 14-17, 2008), "Malin Alegria."

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