I just finished Maritza: Lead With Your Heart! Since there's not much on the Internet about the World By Us dolls due to their in-store release literally being yesterday, I figured I'd provide summaries of the books along with my reviews.
If you don't want to be spoiled, don't click this post!
Maritza and her friend Sierra hang out at the Columbia Heights Hispanic Heritage Month festival together. Maritza and Sierra both like soccer, but Sierra quit the team to focus on ballet Folklorico. Maritza feels proud of herself for winning the youth 5K, and she dances around with Sierra. Turns out, though, Maritza’s friend Yesenia tells her that a soccer match is about to happen, and the organizer won’t let girls play soccer. Maritza leaves Sierra, but Sierra tells her to be back for her dance performance.
Maritza and Yesenia meet Violeta Moreno, a new girl at school, whose cousin Mia wants to play soccer. By using her clout as a winning runner, Maritza finds the organizer and explains that girls should be able to play too. Maritza also says that her dream is to play for the US Women’s National Team and then be the first Latina coach for it. Violeta shares the same dream but says she can’t do it. Maritza encourages her, but then she realizes something- Maritza missed Sierra’s performance. Sierra gets mad.
While Sierra jokes with her dance friends about the performance, Maritza regrets missing it. Then, Raheem, who got second in the race, comes up to Maritza for a rematch, and she goes up to a food truck to avoid him. Maritza notices a jar with a photo of a family- one whose father was detained by immigration and is looking for money to pay legal fees. Maritza donates all her money but then notices that one of the people in the photo is Mia. Violeta’s uncle was detained.
Maritza and her brother spend the night at their Abuelo's apartment, but when Maritza wakes up, she feels the urge to talk to her Tia Mari about everything. Tia Mari died from cancer, so instead, Maritza “writes” her a note about Violeta. Abuela finds out that Maritza knows, and says that the uncle’s name is Andres, he has 2 US-born children and he was an essential worker. Maritza eats, and then she goes to the Riverfront Community Center to hang out with Makena and Evette. They bump soccer balls into the air together and have fun.
In class, Maritza learns about DREAMers, people who immigrated to the US when they were children. They read an article about a student from South Korea who had no idea he wasn’t a US citizen and is waiting to get citizenship. The class debates about the issue, and it makes Violeta uncomfortable. At soccer practice, though, team captain Ainsley mentions the Soccer Showcase, where people can try out for a club soccer team. Maritza and Violeta are excited, but Ainsley is worried that the team might fall apart.
Maritza talks to her family about Violeta and figures out she needs to talk to her about the whole detainment thing. After a soccer game from the team Maritza’s father coaches, the DC Azules, Maritza sees an opportunity to ask Violeta about everything but doesn’t take it. Maritza’s dad tells him that before her abuelos became citizens, they feared a lot of things that would cause them to be deported, including being late on rent or not. Those stories give Maritza hope for Violeta, and she knows she has to be a friend to her. At their soccer game later, Violeta texts Maritza and says that something came up, so she had to miss the game. Maritza worries about her, but plays hard and wins the game.
After hugging Makena and Evette after the game, Maritza texts Violeta that the team won. Maritza then finds Violeta’s mother and finds Violeta at a church fundraiser for her uncle’s legal fees. Violeta explains her uncle’s situation, that he lived in America for 10 years to make money to help his sick Abuela and then immigration found him. Violeta also immigrated to the US when she was very young with just the clothes on her back. After, Sierra calls Maritza, being very mad and feeling like they shouldn’t be friends anymore. Thinking about how to help Violeta, Maritza finds a way to show her support- through the Soccer Showcase.
Maritza calls Makena and Evette and plans on the Soccer Showcase event being a World By Us event. Maritza also decides to share Violeta’s story with the class, and it goes well. The soccer team plans to work together at the soccer showcase, and people pitch in food trucks to collect donations and the evening news. That night, Maritza looks at a quote by activist Dolores Huerta and it inspires her to do good the next day.
At the showcase, Makena and Evette show up and the soccer team forms a sign that says “Families Belong Together”. Maritza and Violeta speak about everything. The crowd cheers and just like that, it’s over. While Maritza hangs out with Evette and Makena, it turns out the evening news wants to interview Maritza. She says she fought for the cause because she wants immigrant families to be together.
Maritza’s current events class keeps on collecting donations for Andres, and the World By Us page blows up in support of Andres. In class, there’s a special guest- Andres. Andres got to be freed thanks to Maritza’s hard work. While he’s not a citizen yet, Maritza knows that he will be someday.
My Review: This book was really good!
First, I love how the author approached the topic of immigration in a kid-friendly way. Angela Cervantes did a great job explaining why families need to come to America to make ends meet, and also explaining other people's views about this topic. I've read about the immigration issue a lot in the media, but this book really helped me understand it more than any article ever.
Maritza is a good team player and a good helper. I liked her attitude when it came to helping Violeta and her family. I could relate to her a lot, especially when she isolated herself from her friend Sierra. During the pandemic, I've been isolated from my friends to work on other things, so I could relate to that.
I loved how supportive Makena and Evette were of Maritza. They attended all her soccer games, helped post the Soccer Showcase on the World By Us website, and helped spread awareness of Violeta and her family's struggle. Again, I love their dynamic! More books, please, AG!
The plot was very intriguing and had me turning the pages really quickly. Well, as quick as I could, because I had my phone on me to take notes. I liked Maritza's ideas to use the platforms she had to speak up about Violeta and Andres, but I also felt that the whole friendship fight was shoved in. I related to it this time, but it still felt shoved in. Overall, I liked the book a lot and would recommend it.
This book gets an 8.5/10 from me!
P.S: Angela Cervantes replied to my comment on Instagram! Yay!