Becoming Naomi León
|Author||Pam Muñoz Ryan|
|September 1, 2005|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
Becoming Naomi León is a 2005 fiction, adventure, and young author's 246 page coming of age novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan about a quiet half American-half Mexican girl, whose life with her great-grandmother and younger brother is peaceful, until her mother reappears after abandoning her and her brother years earlier.
Naomi Outlaw is a Hispanic girl who lives a carefree life with her great-grandmother, Mary Outlaw and her deformed younger brother, Owen, in the fictional town Lemon Tree, California. One day, Naomi and Owen's mother, Skyla, suddenly reappears after 7 years of being gone. Her arrival brings all sorts of questions from the small family and their neighbors, including the fact that Skyla is showing favoritism towards Naomi.
Mary later tells Naomi and Owen the truth, but they don't really know the truth, until the day of the conference where Skyla promised to come, but she didn't. That day, Naomi realized that Skyla is really an alcoholic and that her father really wanted to keep her and Owen but Skyla wouldn't let him. As things get more severe, Naomi becomes very weary of Skyla, but despite her best friend's warnings, Naomi refused to see anything bad about her mother.
However, after a seemingly regular doctor's appointment for Owen, Skyla suddenly becomes infuriated and tells Naomi that they were leaving, but Naomi knew that Skyla was taking her just so she would take care of Skyla's boyfriend Clive's daughter, Sapphire. Refusing to let that happen, Mary takes the kids on a whirlwind journey accompanied by their neighbors Fabiola and Bernardo Morales to the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. There they go on a quest in which Naomi is determined to find her father, Santiago. The group participate in Mexico's Los Posadas and Night of the Radishes, where Santiago arrives and reunites with his children. However, Santiago is unable to come back with Naomi and Owen to Lemon Tree.
However, with Santiago's help, Mary successfully manages to gain full guardianship of Naomi and Owen, much to Skyla's dismay, and the trio return to their peaceful life in Lemon Tree.
Naomi Soledad León Outlaw: the daughter of Santiago and Skyla (Terri Lynn), the great-granddaughter of Mary, and the sister of Owen; she is also the main protagonist and narrator of the story. Naomi is a quiet and shy but very naive half American-half Mexican girl who has difficulty speaking up for herself and her younger brother Owen, and has lived with her brother and grandmother for most of her life. She is talented at soap carving and as she just goes to "worrying and making lists" and also considers herself as "nobody special". Other than Naomi Leon the main characters are her father Santiago, her mother Skyla (Terri Lynn), her best friend Bianca, the great-grandmother Mary, and her little brother Owen.
Kirkus Reviews wrote "Ryan’s sure-handed storytelling and affection for her characters convey a clear sense of Naomi’s triumph, as she becomes “who I was meant to be.”" and Publishers Weekly wrote "Once again, Ryan (Esperanza Rising ) crystallizes the essence of settings and characters through potent, economic prose." Common Sense Media found "Skyla a rather cardboard villain, and lessens the complexity of the situation. But the author makes up for this with the richness of the scenes in Mexico, which spring to vivid life"