• Title: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
  • Author: Alda P. Dobbs
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers on September 14, 2021
  • Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 288
  • Formats Available: Hardback, Paperback, Audiobook, & Digital
  • Rating: 5/5

Trigger Warnings: Murder, Violence, War

Many thanks to Alda P. Dobbs for providing me with a paperback copy of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna with a request for an honest review.

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About Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna is a poor mestizo girl who escapes her burning village along with her elderly grandmother and younger siblings during the Mexican Revolution in 1913. Petra and her family trek across the desert’s wilderness and face perilous battlefields in an attempt to reach the safety of the U.S. border. Every night, when Petra closes her eyes, she hangs tight to her dreams. In one of them, she knows how to read, and she reads everything – books, newspapers, EVERYTHING. But all of her dreams will have to wait as long as she stays true to her promise to Papa.

Provided by the Author for Review

My Review

Alda Dobbs brings Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna to life with brilliant imagery and a harrowing tale of love, loss, and immeasurable strength. Based on the true story of Alda’s grandmother and great-grandmother, Barefoot Dreams brings the Mexican Revolution to life in a way that I would never be able to understand. I live a life of privilege by never having had to go through something as horrible as this. 

Petra Luna is a young girl living in a tiny village when her mama dies during childbirth. Not long after, the Federales take her papa and force him to fight for the dictator. The Federales murdered Petra’s cousin as he tried to hide to avoid capture. After which, they burn her village to the ground. The world seems bleak to Petra as she takes her grandmother, her little sister, and her baby brother on the run. The trials she goes through would be enough to knock anyone to their knees, but she keeps going. She plunders through even though all she really wants is to learn to read and write. Activities Petra’s grandmother calls barefoot dreams. Will Petra’s wish come true, or will her family succumb to the dangers of war?

Petra is an extraordinary character who lives her life one day at a time with nothing but her dreams and a promise to keep her going. The sheer strength it takes Petra to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter the obstacles is admirable. I don’t want to call Petra’s journey an adventure because the word adventure evokes a sense of excitement, but the path that Petra and her family follow is anything but exciting. Horrifying, excruciating, and tragic are words that I would put to this story. Regardless, Petra is the kind of girl I aspire to be, even though I am long past girlhood. I still want to be brave, kind, and full of dreams.

The Mexico that Petra lived in is nothing like what I picture when I see Mexico in my mind. I am woefully ignorant of my geography, especially of countries outside the US. Honestly, I am woefully ignorant about almost everything regarding Mexico apart from the stereotypes and ugliness I see on television. But, Petra’s Mexico makes me feel terrified and in awe of the beauty. Blood running in the streets mixes with bountiful trees that provide firewood and a living for Petra’s family. The beauty of the desert full of cactus also poses a great danger with whirlwinds full of dust and dirt. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around something so gorgeous yet so sinister at the same time.

The best part of the book is the message of hope that Petra has for her future and her family. No matter how high the odds stacked against her, Petra never once loses hope. That part alone is what makes me love this story so much. The thought that this is part of a true story of lives that lived this way mesmerizes me. Real feet that bled after walking through the desert, and real stomachs that were continuously empty, yet still they kept moving. Through it all, they kept going.

I award The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna a full 5 out of 5 stars. My eyes are full of tears as I write this review. I found the prose so inherently beautiful. I can’t find the words to make everyone understand how exceptional this book is. I hope that some of the words are sufficient enough to pique your interest, though. I can’t recommend this middle-grade book enough. This novel is one that I will read many times over. 


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About the Author – Alda P. Dobbs

Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the upcoming novel Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna (Sourcebooks, Fall 2021). Her writings have won various awards including the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant. She has also written articles for Highlights Children’s Magazine, Guideposts, and La Prensa newspaper.

Alda was born in a small town in northern Mexico and moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. She studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She is as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures, and nature as she is about writing.

Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.

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2 Comments

  1. I just loved this review, I think it’s so important for children to read about the plights of children in other, less fortunate countries, and gain some empathy.

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