Fiction - Juvenile
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Publication Date: September 1, 2004
Naomi lives in Lemon Tree, CA with her physically disabled little brother, Owen, and their Gram. They live a simple and mostly contented life together; Naomi has her lists and soap carving while sunny Owen is at the top of his class and never loses at checkers. When their alcoholic and mentally unstable mother, Skyla, shows up seven years after leaving them at Gram’s everything about their quiet little life comes into question. Naomi is challenged to figure out who she is; to stop being a mouse and instead become a lion.
Becoming Naomi Leon is a beautifully written story with lovely imagery. Munoz Ryan has a real talent for understanding her characters; their motivations, desires and, at times, less than noble acts. She tells a very realistic story of terrible things that happen every day and yet always in her story an element of hope is present. Naomi is a very relatable and sympathetic character and her situation is more common than it should be. It is one of the better children’s books I’ve read. It was a very moving story and I look forward to exploring other books by this author.