War, Promises, and Aspirations: A Review of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
Written by Alda P. Dobbs
Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Ages 8+
Available September 14, 2021

It is September 1913, and the Mexican Revolution is well underway. Mexico is in the thick of the war between the Federales (the cruel army of Mexican President Victoriano Huerta), and the Revolucionarios (army of the people, fighting for liberty). In the small village of Esperanzas, we find 12-year-old Petra Luna. Her lifelong dream is to go to school and learn to read, but she must put it on hold to take on the responsibility of caring for her grandmother, younger sister, and baby brother. With her mother’s passing and her father forced to join the Federales, Petra made a promise to provide for her family and keep them safe. She struggles to keep this promise when the Federales attack Esperanzas and Petra and her family must flee with only the clothes on their backs. They trek the desert barefoot, finding temporary safe havens only to have to leave when danger arises. Petra must fight every minute of the day to protect her family, but she is determined to get them to America and away from the war. Will she be able to cross the Mexican-American border, keep her promise, and bring her dreams to fruition?

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna is a story of bravery, courage, truth, and generosity in the face of adversity; not shying away from tough subjects like death, murder, famine, and people with cruel hearts and minds. Narrated by a mature 12-year-old voice, Petra’s journey illustrates that sometimes in life you will have to deal with harsh realities, but you can find direction and peace by connecting with your roots. Readers will know the power of independence, believing in themselves, and staying true to who they are. Inspired by the experiences of Alda Dobbs’ great grandmother, it serves as a cultural history lesson. Dobbs uses Spanish words throughout the book to show Petra’s culture and teach non-native speakers a little bit of the Spanish language. Dobbs shares the details of her great grandmother’s story in the author’s note and also includes a timeline of real-life events that took place during the Mexican Revolution. Barefoot Dreams is an important read for children not only to learn a significant part of Mexican history but also to learn the strength of being loyal to family, being unselfish, and keeping promises.