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From The CriticsWith Call Me Maria, Judith Ortiz Cofer delivers a poignant story of a sixteen-year-old Puerto Rican girl trying to find her place in the barrio of New York. Maria has gone with her father as he returns to the place of his childhood leaving her mother behind for a temporary time. Maria's father is a superintendent and a jack-of-all- trades as he takes care of the needs of the tenants in the building. Maria accepts the responsibility of making their basement apartment into a home--a home where she sits from her desk doing schoolwork and looking up at the feet that walk down the sidewalk. Maria befriends Whoopie, who teaches her the way of the barrio and how to master Spanglish. When her mother does come to New York a year later, Maria realizes it is only for a visit and not to live. Though both parents want her, Maria decides to stay with her father because she has come to accept the life of the barrio. Maria's voice is a strength in this uniquely written novel as Cofer comfortably transitions between prose, letters, and poetry. 2004, Orchard Books, 127 pp., Ages young adult.