Into the Tall, Tall Grass // Book Discussion

As part of my goal to read more books by Hispanic authors and about Hispanic experiences, I'll be discussing a Hispanic book every two months that I have chosen to read. I originally planned to discuss Into the Tall, Tall Grass in four separate posts but seeing as it is a month late I thought I would discuss my thoughts all in one go. In the future, I won't be putting specific dates on my announcement posts. I'll just be saying what I'll be discussing and in what month. I've also changed the number of discussion posts from every month to every two months so I have a chance to read the book a month prior to discussing it.

The second book I've chosen is Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon. It's a middle grade contemporary/magical realism story centering around Yolanda and her family at a time where they are at their most vulnerable. Yolanda's grandmother is supposedly perfectly fine but won't wake up from sleep. A strange tall grass in her backyard leads her, the sister she isn't talking to, the best friend said sister stole way from her, and a boy she has a crush on an adventure to save her grandmother.  In this post, I'll be discussing my thoughts on the whole book. This is of course, not spoiler free. If you would like to join, I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Premise

Yolanda is still dealing with the death of her grandfather who she shared a love of science with. Her father is off fighting in a war. And her grandmother, Wela, is in a mysteriously deep sleep. She's also feels rejected by her ex-best friend who rather be friends with her sister Sonja. She also hasn't manifested her family's magical powers which have been a notorious contention between the family and the townspeople. But it is she that dreams of Wela speaking to her and actually seeing her wake up to tell her to take her to the pecan tree. The only pecan tree in a formerly prosperous pecan farm. This all occurs after a social worker comes and tells them that the sisters are going to be sent to live in a foster home until they could get in touch with their father. And Wela will be sent away to a hospice. There's also been a strange thing happening in her backyard. There is grass growing after decades of nothing growing and not only that but it is growing taller than Yolanda's head. Yolanda, her sister Sonja, her ex-best friend Ghita, her crush Hasik, her Wela, and her dog Rosalind Franklin all journey into the tall, tall grass to save Wela. 


Yolanda's love of science was something I quite enjoyed reading. I don't particularly like science but she made it sound interesting. Her relationship with her grandfather was endearing. However, her relationship with almost everyone else was troubled. The situation behind her wanting to find a cure for grandfather's cancer while he was dying instead of not spending time with him felt believable. She is a very stubborn girl. Her friend Ghita told it to her straight that she is missing out on his last moments and Yolanda subconsciously understands she was right but doesn't want to back down to her stubborn ways. I didn't like that Ghita's ow grandmother died and that was the reason she became friends with Sonja. My reasoning is that it was too on the nose. This whole story is about grief so I understand why the author went this way with the story but it just seemed like the easy route in order to get Yolanda to feel guilty and finally apologize. If she just realized on her own how unfair she was being without the added guilt, it would have been a more authentic apology. I didn't particularly like Yolanda because of this. I can appreciate a stubborn person because I am the same way but the way in which she eventually saw the error in her ways felt a bit tainted which made me feel pretty meh about her character and her character growth.


I thought Sonja's ability was absolutely brilliant but a bit too far at the same time. It goes too far by having Yolanda having allergic reactions to the bee stings that can kill her. And then Sonja's like I'm sorry about the bee's stinging you. Not, I'm sorry I've almost killed you several times. Also, Wela should have had them move beds. Yolanda doesn't need to be in fear of her life every time she sleeps! 

I was surprised that the author went there with Sonja and Ghita in a middle grade book. There was no mention of a possible romance between the two girls in the synopsis. I like how it played out. I think Sonja not wanting to be with Ghita because of how she thought her sister and father would react was done really well too. I liked Sonja a lot more than I expected.

Ghita and Hasik

Honestly, I didn't really care about Ghita and Hasik. I appreciate Ghita's honestly with Yolanda but otherwise, she wasn't all that interesting. She didn't want them going in the grass, on the adventure, and Sonja was annoyed with her the whole time.

After Hasik was like I know you like me to Yolanda I could care less about his character. He came off as a pushy boy a couple of times. Obviously, I don't particularly like characters who come off like they think they are charming. Just be there for the person you like and if it's mutual it'll work out. 

The Magic

I really liked how almost all of the family's abilities were tied to nature. That ancestor who could read minds didn't really make sense but I liked the overall theme of magic and nature. I really liked Wela's power over butterflies, Sonja's power over bees, and the story behind their mother's power (healing her daughter before she died) as well as Yolanda's power of healing. However, the adventure across the tall grass wasn't so magical. It seemed very mundane which is why I guess this is considered to have magical realism elements and is not a fantasy. Still, I was a bit disappointed in the journey to the pecan tree. I thought it could have been a lot more magical and adventurous. 

Past vs. Present

I enjoyed the flashbacks to the past way more than the present adventure. It had a lot more interesting drama and intrigue. I thought it was a brilliant way to add to the story to see how this family became so divided in order to show how they can come together again.

Grief and Healing

One of the main themes in the story is grief. Yolanda's story is that of someone who needs to accept that someone is dying, grieve that person, and continue living with the memories of the person who passed away still with them. I thought it was an excellent message. It was a difficult message for Yolanda to receive but that is what makes her grieving and beginning the road to healing that more believable.

Overall Thoughts

I have mixed thoughts on Into the Tall, Tall Grass. I think the topic of grief and healing was done really well, the f/f romance was done well for young audiences, and the flashbacks to the past were extremely interesting. I didn't particularly like the adventure into the tall grass because it wasn't as magical or adventurous as I was hoping. I didn't like the easy way Yolanda felt like she had to say sorry to her ex-best friend. It could have been more organic with her coming to the realization on her own without any excess need to do so. Also, Hasik wasn't a good love interest because he came off pushy. And Ghita needed more of herself shown during the adventure for me to really care for her. I do think middle grade aged kids will enjoy what this book does do right. I think it could be beneficial for those who have dealt with or are dealing with a loss at such a young age. I just wish it was a bit of a more magical, interesting adventure throughout. Let me know what you thought of Into the Tall, Tall Grass in the comments. Did you like how the magic was incorporated? What did you think of Yolanda's character growth?


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