The Magic of Empowerment by Anna Meriano
Wow. I am so lucky to be back on the Nerdy Book Club blog, and so lucky to be putting out the third and final book in the Love Sugar Magic Trilogy. I have to start with that because the last several months have been trying their hardest to make me feel down on my luck, which I objectively am not. I sustained a serious injury (while playing quidditch) that affected my mobility, saw multiple family members and friends in the hospital, and lost my grandmother, a huge presence of love and support in our family (and also the inspiration for most of Abuela’s humor and shenanigans in the series). But I am recovering and feeling well, surrounded by the love and support of my family, and seeing this series that has meant so much to me come to a conclusion that I’m really proud of. It’s been an uncomfortable roller coaster and things still feel like kind of a mess, but not a hopeless one.
Things are getting messier than ever for Leo in A Mixture of Mischief. If it’s not new relatives showing up on her doorstep, it’s a new power manifesting at the most inconvenient moments. External forces put the bakery at risk, and even worse, harm innocents in Rose Hill. Leo might not be equipped to handle such big problems, but of course that’s not going to stop her from trying.
There are so many reasons why this book, which happens to be releasing during an emotionally heavy time in my life, is itself a little bit heavier than the books before it. The stakes naturally rise with each new installment of a story, and Leo’s growth in each previous book made her (I hope) less likely to recklessly cause her own magical problems. The content of each book also affected its context. The first book, which I started working on in 2014, was always meant to be a celebration of family, heritage, and home. The third book I wrote in late 2018, separated from that initial concept by what felt like a lifetime of political outrage and escalating horrors. My students were writing stories about walls and bullies and fear; no matter how fun I wanted the series to be, it felt disingenuous to keep Leo completely insulated from the forces that define life for many of her readers.
Fantasy is a powerful tool for escape, but that is not its only or even its primary purpose. Stories about magic are stories about power, and who gets it, and how it should be used. Leo is offered a choice in how she uses her power (and how she honors her heritage) in this book. It’s not a particularly subtle choice, but we’re not living in particularly subtle times. She also learns, once again, that her community is stronger united than divided. Though there is real danger and fear in the novel, I tried not to lose the hope.
I have always wished for the Love Sugar Magic series to inspire readers with a sense of their own power. This time, I especially hope they feel empowered to face difficult, scary situations that feel too big for them to tackle alone. I hope they feel empowered to stand up for what’s right, to apologize when they do wrong, to let go of anxiety and despair and to keep hold of trust.
Wishing the same thing for myself, and for everyone.
Anna Meriano is the author of the books in the Love Sugar Magic series, A Dash of Trouble, A Sprinkle of Spirits and A Mixture of Mischief. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. She has taught creative writing and high school English, and she works as a writing tutor. Anna likes reading, knitting, playing full-contact quid- ditch, and singing along to songs in English, Spanish, and ASL. Her favorite baked goods are the kind that open hearts. You can visit her online at www.annameriano.com.
January 27 A Library Mama
January 28 YAYOMG
January 29 Open Book Reviews
January 30 Teachers Who Read
January 30 Charlotte’s Library
January 31 Nerdy Book Club
February 3 Storymamas
February 4 Latinos in Kidlit
February 6 Mixed-up Files
February 7 Kirsti Call
February 7 Always in the Middle
February 27 MG Book Village