How Tía Lola Ended Up Starting Over

By Julia Alvarez
Random House • 2011 • 145 pages
Paperback ($6.99)
ISBN: 978-0-375-87320-1
Ages  8-12

In the final entry in the Tía Lola series, families are reconfigured, a mystery is solved, and Tía Lola becomes the proprietor of a bed and breakfast located in the home of the aging, but still mentally acute, Colonel Charlebois. Miguel and Juanita have moved from New York City to rural Vermont with their mother, leaving their Papi in the city—and acquiring Tía Lola as their nanny.

Read Related: Wonder

With her battle cry of No hay problema! the exuberant Lola tackles just about anything that comes her way.  In the months she has been in Vermont, she has managed to inspire the townspeople to adopt a more tropical view of life, and many of them understand more than a little Spanish.  Now that she’s feeling at home, Lola is quite willing to help the Espada girls solve the problem of their dad’s job.  Victor, would-be fiancé of Linda, Miguel and Juanita’s mother, has decided that he doesn’t really want to be a lawyer anymore.  What to do?  Thus is born the idea of a B&B, run in part by Tía Lola, but also by Victor and his girls. When the new B&B makes an enemy that continually engages in sabotage, it’s up to Tía and the kids to solve the mystery.

A satisfying conclusion to the story begun in How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay and continued in How Tía Lola Learned to Teach and How Tía Lola Saved the Summer, this is a great read aloud for families as they consider their heritage, hopes for the future, and fond memories of the past.  The engaging present tense narrative and quickly clipping plot may have kids wresting the book from their parents to finish on their own, and the charming characters are sure to become fast family friends.  Sufficient background is provided in each book to understand the back story, but reading one is like eating potato chips—you’re going to want to consume them all.

Reviewed by Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, Washington