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If Each Madrigal Family Member Were A Book

For the last several months, the biggest topic in the animation movie world has been Disney’s newest smash “Encanto.” The plot revolves around the Madrigals, a multigenerational family whose members, except Mirabel, have all been endowed with magical abilities. These characters have become fan favorites worldwide due to their unique personalities and superb depictions by their voice actors.

After watching the movie, I had an intriguing idea: what if I assigned each member a book?

Pedro Madrigal

He was the late patriarch of the Madrigal family, husband of Alma Madrigal, father of triplets Julieta, Pepa, and Bruno, and grandfather of Mirabel, Luisa, Isabela, Dolores, Camilo, and Antonio. 

His sacrifice to protect the family from an enemy attack creates the essence of the magic “The Miracle,” the candle Alma was holding at the time of his death. Does this plotline sound familiar to you–A parent sacrificing to protect the family and creating the magic source? Yes. It would be none other than the “Harry Potter” series for me. Lily Potter puts herself in front of Voldemort to protect her son Harry. The source of Harry’s protection spell was Lily’s sacrifice and love. 

Alma Madrigal

She is the matriarch of the Madrigals and the keeper of the candle, the “Miracle.” After the husband’s death, her only goal in life becomes to guard and protect the “Miracle” and make sure the members receive their magical abilities. The pressure put on her family name in her village was passed down to all the family members with these magical powers.

Disney stated the movie was inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s world-renowned novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” This book is the essence of magical realism in Colombia (the actual country “Encanto” was also set in) book is woven around the multi-generational family, The Buendías. In both the Madrigals and the Buendías’ vast family trees, a woman is inseparable from the past and tries to keep the family going at all costs; Alma Madrigal and Úrsula Iguarán. 

Julieta Madrigal

Julieta is the eldest child of Alma and Pedro, who has the magical powers to cook healing foods. Even without any magical realism involved, food can heal not just our physical bodies but also our emotions. When we feel sad, lonely, or angry, eating food can help us feel happy and content. In fact, many cultures believe that the mother’s food is the most healing of all. This is because the mother’s love and care are infused into the food she prepares for her family. Julieta’s character is portrayed as a kind mother and a loving wife in “Encanto” movie. Her relation with food just reminded me of one book I read recently. That is “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner. This Korean-American singer’s memoir is written about the mother-daughter relationship after the mother’s passing. Using the food as the base, she dives into the world of her mother’s world and her Korean identity.

Pepa Madrigal

Even though there are many fantasy books with weather magic, it was hard for me to find a book that would fit Pepa, the character who can control the weather with her emotions. “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin sets in Earthsea, a large cluster of islands surrounded by an uncharted ocean full of weather magic. Ged, the story’s main character, possesses weather magic, and his mentor warns him not to let his emotions guide his magical powers.

Bruno Madrigal

I know we are not supposed to talk about Bruno, but his character is too important to leave out. Bruno is the mysterious character that we do not see for the first part of the movie that everyone in the Madrigal family does not talk out loud about as it feels like it is a sensitive topic. Bruno can predict the future, and he does that with the help of the sand. He also has a room full of sand, and we even hear Dolores mentioning that she “associates him with the sound of falling sand.” There is only one book that I can think of currently that has the sand element and a character who can predict the future. “Dune” by Frank Herbert. The main character of Dune, Paul Atreides, also can predict the future just like Bruno can. 

Agustín Madrigal

In the Madrigal family, two Madrigals by marriage come in without any magical abilities. Every Madgrical family member is vital to my article, with or without any magical powers. 

Agustín is the husband of Juliet, who befriended her because of the accident-prone nature that led him to have Juliet cure him several times. In the movie, we see him constantly stung by bees, which reminds me of “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne. Despite being naive and slow-witted, Pooh is cheerful and caring, much like Agustín, a loving parent and spouse.

Félix Madrigal

Similar to Agustín, Félix is also a Madrigal by marriage to Pepa Madrigal. His character is portrayed as this very supportive cheerful husband. He seems to be very understanding and positive-spirited. Gabriel Oak from the novel “Far From the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy seems to fit his character. I understand this book is not entirely about Oak. However, I believe it serves as both these characters are secondary but essential characters to both the stories.

Isabela Madrigal

Isabela Madrigal is the perfect daughter with the power to make flowers and plants grow. Due to her upbringing of being perfect, she is also very stubborn. If she is a book, I would say that would be without a doubt “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Mary Lennox, one of the novel’s main characters, is introduced as a very spoiled character due to her parents’ upbringing. Over the course of bringing the secret garden back to life, her character also drastically evolves into a kind and cheerful girl like Isabela in “Encanto.”

Luisa Madrigal

There are not many physically strong female characters in literature that I was able to find. Luisa’s character is also Disney’s first buff female, which I think is an excellent evolvement from the stereotypical princess-figured characters. For that reason, her character reminded me of Brienne of Tarth in “Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin. Brienne is a female taller and stronger than men. She is also very loyal and duty-oriented, similar to Luisa, who protects the village.

Mirabel Madrigal

Our good old Mirabel Madrigal, the main character of the movie, and of course, she is the only member in the family who did not receive a magical power. Regardless she is very determined to help her family in every other way she can. Mirabel is also very proud of all the other members. She also sets off to save the Casita (the house) and the “miracle” when the magical powers are threatened. Her curiosity and determination reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline.” Coraline, a curious child, follows through the secret door opened by rats. RATS! Yes, Mirabel is the one who finds a secret door in the house that leads her to see Bruno living with rats.

Dolores Madrigal

You might have thought it would have been easier to assign a book to Dolores, whose magical power is super-hearing ability. However, among the books I have read, it was hard for me to relate her characteristics to a book. however, there is one book I loved as a kid which quite reminds me of Dolores. Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears A Who!”. It is about the elephant Horton who hears the people from Whoville when nobody else cannot. Dolores is a quiet child who happens to know everything because of her super hearing powers. She also does not seek attention but deep down she yearns for love. Our Horton on the other hand is a very naive and sweet elephant who wants to help others. Despite these differences, they both can hear what others cannot seem to hear.

Camilo Madrigal

Camilo Madrigal is my favorite Madrigal family member. He is mischievous and is capable of shape-shifting. The character Loki from the novel “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman is also a trickster who can shape-shift who reminded me of Camilo a great deal.

Antonio Madrigal

Lastly, the youngest Madrigal Antonio, I think, has the most incredible magical power: the ability to speak to animals. He also has a couple of animal companions, mainly a jaguar named Parce. This connection with animals reminded me of Philip Pullman’s book “His Dark Materials.” Like Antonio, Lyra Belacqua, the protagonist, has an animal companion she can converse with.

What other books reminded you readers of the Madrigals? Tell me in the comment section below.

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