Sonia Ocampo’s birth coincided with a terrible storm, but as soon as she was born, the winds went away leaving her family and the village to believe that she had a direct line to God. Her miraculous ability to silence the wind is both her blessing and her curse. In “The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind,” as in her middle grade novel, “Milagros” (Candlewick, 2008), Meg Medina, who has written for adults and children for 15 years, explores the power and pitfalls of the miracle.
At sixteen, Sonia has taken on the maladies, prayers, and dreams of the entire village. She is weighed down by milagros (tiny hand-forged prayer charms) which she wears on a shawl. While many people in Sonia’s fictional mining village make the journey North to pursue economic opportunity, Sonia is the anchor of faith for the village and is unable to explore her own dreams.
Sonia’s village might be in Mexico or Central America but the reader is often unsure. With lyrical writing, Medina creates a fictional world which skirts the edges of reality and magic. The reader is covered in the dust of the mountains, he can hear the promising whistle of the train that runs to the capital, and feel the weight of the milagros on Sonia’s shawl.
The range of female characters in the book is especially compelling. Sonia’s Tia Neli is strong and street smart. Sonia’s mother, while quiet, has a silent strength about her. Conchita Fo, the bar mistress is a wonderful mix of beauty and beast.
Sonia is the strongest of all. Throughout the book she struggles with her faith, with the lack of opportunities in her village, with love and with loyalty. Sonia journeys from her small mountain village to the capital city but ends up using knowledge from her village life and family to finally her solve her problems. Intelligent, ethical, and empathetic, Sonia, who was born with the burden of a miracle, takes back her life and destiny.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, Sonia survives a storm, meets characters who challenge her values, journeys far away and back again only to learn there’s no place like home.