Ana Maria Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle

By Publishers Weekly

When Ana María first saw her family’s New York City apartment at age three, “it seemed as big as a castle.” Now, the 11-year-old shares a tiny bedroom with two of her three sisters, and a new baby is on the way. A gifted student and pianist, the girl worries that a fifth sibling will financially jeopardize her chances of getting a good education and further distract her mother, whom she believes doesn’t love her as much as she loves her sisters. Writing in Ana María’s often angst-riddled voice, debut author Burgos builds the drama as her determined protagonist applies for a scholarship to a private school, performs in a piano recital at Lincoln Center, and discovers during a trip to her parents’ native Dominican Republic that the aunt she idolizes is a snob who abuses her adolescent maid. Despite encroachment on melodramatic turf, the novel offers a poignant portrait of a warm extended family, and its heroine’s transition from self-centered to empathetic is credible and gratifying.