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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
There are books written that draw the reader in to read each and every word, and "Born in Rio" is one of those! It is 2007 and Rita Ray is a New York executive who lives and breathes her job. Then she receives a phone call from Florida telling her that her mother has fallen and is hospitalized in West Palm Beach Hospital in serious physical condition. Rita's mother, Maia Ray, had fled her native Brazil with young Rita years before and had settled in Miami where there was a growing Brazilian population. Maia begins a gardening business in what becomes her new hometown of Boynton Beach, Florida, and specializes in growing orchids. Rita leaves home to receive an education and make her way far away in New York City where she lives her isolated life. Maia dies but not before telling Rita to look for a red box and that "You have a place in this world, Ritinha. Go, leave, and find what you have lost." (p. 34) Maia also tells Rita that she is to take Maia's white cat, Mia, with her on her journey. Grieving but not crying, Rita does look through the red box and finds letters addressed to Maria Aparecida Silva Reis (Rita's mother's real name) from a person named Elizabeth Chiesa from Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Laid off from her job, Rita heads for Ipanema and Elizabeth Chiesa with Mia in a cat travel case. But will Rita find what she has lost?
"Born in Rio" by Cassia Martins is well-written as it draws the reader into Rita's life and how she makes her way in a life she never dreamed of after her mother's death. Rita, Elizabeth, Gabriel, and all the other characters including those affected by Rita's estranged birth father Antonio Frick, are three dimensional and believable. The plot moves smoothly to the end as Rita comes into her own and lives out a prediction that she has ignored. Dialogue is authentic and fits well into the storyline. "Born in Rio" is a story that gives an authentic flavor of life in Brazil and tells of a woman who accepts and finally embraces her intended road in life.