by Linda Covella
In 1775 Mexico, New Spain, 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, of Spanish and Pima Indian ancestry, can’t seem to fit into the limited female roles of her culture. Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves, dreaming of adventure in faraway lands. But when a tragic accident presents her with the adventure she longed for, it’s at a greater price than she could ever have imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California.
On the four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, Gloria, and her seductive brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo—half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel’s layers of hidden feelings, she’s torn between him and Nicolas, the handsome soldier pursuing her.
But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama’s Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.
“The historical details are well researched while the writing style flows perfectly. I don’t want to give out too many details because I think you should just check the book out. It doesn’t matter how old you are, a good coming of age tale can really make the hours fly by.”
“I recommend this book to anyone interested U.S. history and culture. I also think this book is a great read for anyone coping over the death of a loved one.”
“Covella effortlessly creates a world to escape to right inside the reader’s head.”
CIR: What gave you the idea for Yakimali’s Gift?
COVELLA: While doing research for a group of short stories I wrote about children telling how and why their ancestors settled in the United States, I came across the 1775 Anza expedition to colonize California. Having grown up in California, I was surprised I’d never learned about this, and that the expedition occurred during the time of the American Revolution and some seventy years before the often-told story of the east-to-west migration of pioneers. This inspired me to write about this little known, but important, part of California and U.S. history.
CIR: What do you hope your readers will get out of this book?
COVELLA: I hope readers enjoy the adventure and romance that Fernanda experiences on the journey from Mexico (modern day Arizona) to California. I also hope they can relate to the issues Fernanda faces and contemplates that are just as important today as they were in 1775: race, religion, the family history that helps determine who you are, and the need to find and live your own individualism.
CIR: What is the main character like?
COVELLA: 15-year-old Fernanda Rosalia Marquina is a strong-willed teen with dreams of adventure where she can see new lands and meet new people. Because of this, though she loves her mother, father, and five brothers, she finds it difficult to live up to all their expectations.
CIR: Is she or any of the characters like you or someone you know?
COVELLA: I’ve always believed that people should embrace their individualism, that they should pursue a life that is true to their beliefs and personality. In this way, I think I’m like Fernanda.
CIR: What themes do you address in this book?
COVELLA: I address themes of self-discovery, race, religion, family connections, and that first romantic love.
Learn more about Linda Covella and her writing at lindacovella.com