In The Summer of El Pintor, the small shops and battered houses of Lucia Street are a far cry from the upper crust neighborhood and the posh boarding school Monica Ramos has left behind when she moves to the barrio. Monica looks up and down the street from the dilapidated house that was her mother’s childhood home and decides unhappily that this will be a summer that she will never forget. She is right, in part. She doesn’t realize, though, that the miserable summer that she expects will be quite an adventure.
From the moment Monica discovers a mysterious letter in a musty hiding place forgotten since her mother’s death, she is drawn into a web of questions surrounding the disappearance of her neighbor, El Pintor. Why did he live on her grandparents’ property free of charge? Why did he paint portraits of her mother and the ruins on Chimney Hill? Why are all the young people in the barrio so intrigued by him?
Monica is soon drawn into the search for El Pintor, the mysterious man who Monica believes holds the secret to her mother’s past.