Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Paola Santiago, #1)
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It's all they've heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother's humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it's the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
TITLE: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
AUTHOR: Tehlor Kay Mejia
PUBLISHER: Rick Riordan Presents
LENGTH: 368 pages
AGE: Middle Grade
GENRE: Fantasy, Horror
Partial Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
DNF 113 pages in (31%)
I wasn't liking it much and then I got to the bit with the former classmate and I got really frustrated so I stopped. I didn't like the combination of how long it took for the main character to get what was going on, plus how little the people with actual answers were willing to tell her. I don't know whether I would have liked this as a kid or not, but it's definitely not for me now.
CW for ableist language (unchallenged), racism, kidnapping, child death (backstory).