Lalani of the Distant Sea
The Island of Sanlagita is not a happy place. There is a drought and not enough water to feed the people or the plants. People get sick and don't get better. They keep sending their strongest boys on sailing trips across the sea to find the mystical Isa, but none have ever returned. Lalani is a curious girl who wants to help her people. One day she finds herself on the mysterious mountain Kahna where she meets a man who grants her a wish. Of course the wish turns out badly and things get even worse for the Sanlagitas. So Lalani ventures across the sea herself to find Isa and a cure for what ails her island home.
Every book by Erin Entrada Kelly is so different from the last. This book was a fascinating look into Philipino folklore and fairy tales. Lalani's world is one of structure and rigidity where everyone has a place and a role to fill in society. But what happens when you don't fit into your predefined roles? What happens when you want more for yourself and your people? What happens when you want to break the shackles that hold you back and make things better? That is what Lalani does. Her adventure is fraught with danger, but she is pure of heart and has the best intentions so she prevails. I really enjoyed the creatures and divine beings she meets. I also appreciated that her friends at home were able to bring hope and change even before Lalani returns.