Feb 072024

Kirkus: When Latin music great Ignacio Ramírez dies, his path to a rewarding afterlife is hindered by unfinished business that demands resolution.

Not only is Benny Ramírez the grandson of a famous Cuban American musician, but everyone else in his family has a talent, too: Papi is a well-regarded Hollywood producer, Mami has a gift for languages, older sister Cristina is a star dancer, and younger brother Manny is a promising actor. When the family inherits Benny’s estranged grandfather’s Miami home after his death, they leave Los Angeles, and the Ramírez kids enter the South Miami Performing Arts School, where Benny, who feels like he isn’t special, struggles to fit in. Fortunately, his musician abuelo’s spectral presence is tied to his mansion, unable to move on. Ignacio must figure out what his unfinished business is and resolve it by New Year’s. Only Benny can see Abuelo, who insists that helping Benny follow in his footsteps to become a world-famous trumpet player must be his unresolved task. Unfortunately, Ignacio has a history of egocentric behavior and little respect for boundaries, which leads Benny into many scrapes. The plot is reminiscent of other ghostly redemption tales, reinforcing the moral that family and community are more valuable than riches and fame. Iriarte writes with a lighthearted touch and includes ample physical comedy; the humor and Cuban American cultural touchstones make this work a welcome addition to the genre.
A humorous and haunting riff on a classic storyline. (Paranormal. 8-12)