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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
In Nia and the Dealer by Dominic Carrillo, when Nia and her mom, who live in Bulgaria, come to spend a couple of weeks with Nia’s grandmother, she is open to learning about life in America. What she discovers along the way is how different but even good her life in Bulgaria actually is, and how much her own mom really loves her, especially after Nia decides to hitch a ride with an attractive 19-year-old guy to see a dying 91-year-old man who means the world to her.
“What a beautiful story!” That was my gut reaction to Nia and the Dealer, a coming of age story by Dominic Carrillo. And while many young teens will relate to the multitude of emotions experienced by the protagonist, 16-year-old Nia, I’d go so far as to say this book could be, and possibly should be read by parents and even grandparents, for what each generation can learn about the thinking and actions of the other. What begins as an adventure for a good reason takes a turn Nia doesn’t see coming. Thankfully, she’s an intelligent, resourceful girl who doesn’t let emotion get in the way of good sense, eventually proving to both herself, her mother, and her grandmother that she is more adult than they give her credit for.
As readers ride along with Nia and Jesse in his battered clunker of a car, Sparky, Nia’s reflections on both the teen, adult, and senior members of her world are worth thinking about. But the final word on what life is all about comes from the dying Kurt, who writes: “Everyone loves the beginning—hope and happiness and all that. No-one likes the end—death, loss, pain. But if we really want to live life, we don’t stop having the beginnings.” And then this: “Worry does you no good. It kills happiness. It kills the present moment. Plus the end of one thing marks the beginning of something else.” Kurt’s words are aimed at Nia but the message is one for us all, regardless of our age. Like I said above, Nia and the Dealer is a beautiful story. Bravo, Dominic Carrillo. Keep stories like this coming, not just for young adults but for all of us.