Under the Mesquite

( 7 )

Overview

As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family. Suddenly Lupita must face a whole new set of challenges, with new roles to play, and no one is handing her the script.

In the midst of juggling life as a high school student,...

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Under the Mesquite

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Overview

As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family. Suddenly Lupita must face a whole new set of challenges, with new roles to play, and no one is handing her the script.

In the midst of juggling life as a high school student, testing her wings as an actress, and dealing with friends who don't always understand, Lupita desperately wants to support Mami in whatever way she can. While her father stays with Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she escapes the chaos of home by writing in the shade of a mesquite tree. Overwhelmed by change and loss, she takes refuge in the healing power of words.

Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita's journey is both heart-wrenching and hopeful. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about the testing of family bonds, the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience, and the kind of love that cannot be uprooted.

Winner of the 2012 Pura Belpré Author Award
A 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Amanda Fensch
Lupita, the oldest of eight children and a gifted student and writer, adores her family. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer during her freshman year of high school, however, her close-knit Mexican-American family begins to unravel. Lupita, in her mother's absence, begins to take on more responsibilities at home, despite her dreams of college and winning writing contests. As her parents struggle with her mother's condition, Lupita seeks solace under the mesquite tree in the backyard, writing down her thoughts and fears. Her mother eventually dies and Lupita loses herself in her grief. Lupita's struggle to move forward and pursue the goals she had set for herself, the ones that her mother had supported so fully, is heart-wrenching and beautifully written. One of the closing scenes, in which Lupita lets her grief and her mother go by throwing her poems of sadness and loss to the wind, is particularly moving. Told from Lupita's point of view and in free verse, McCall elegantly captures the voice of a maturing young woman. This story is filled with ideas concerning self and cultural identity, grief, and the strength of family. Lupita is a smart, compassionate character with which readers will quickly identify and sympathize. Some readers may have a little difficulty following the jumps in time, as the novel is a journey of Lupita's life during her high school years, but McCall's fluid writing keeps the plot moving. Those who take the time to savor this quiet book will not be disappointed. Reviewer: Amanda Fensch
Children's Literature - Dawna Lisa Buchanan
Lupita is the oldest in a family of eight children. She adores her family, but has a special bond with her mother, who is stricken with cancer when Lupita finishes her first year of high school. Poignantly composed in free verse, the story shows the pride, joy, struggles and fears of the family, particularly Lupita, her mother and her father. We learn of their move from Mexico to the United States, the father's work ethic, the mother's tender joy at each birth of another child. Family traditions, celebrations and worship are threaded throughout, as is the slow dying of a beloved mother. Once she is gone, Lupita suffers from a deep depression, until, in desperation, her father sends her to Mexico to live with her grandmother for a while. Hard work, privacy, and the wise support of her relative help Lupita to come to terms with her loss and set new goals for herself. Her father is reluctant to let her leave, but the story ends with Lupita going off to college and ready to face adult life. End pages include a listing and definitions of names, Spanish words and cultural references. This is, quite simply, a beautiful book. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This stunning debut novel in verse chronicles the teenage years of Lupita, a character drawn largely from the author's own childhood. Poised to enter her freshman year in high school, Lupita comfortably straddles the country of her birth, Mexico, and that of her family's adoptive country, the United States. She and her seven siblings live with their Mami, a gifted gardener and tender of her brood, and Papi, a hardworking construction worker. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, the disease begins to sap the family's lives both emotionally and financially. The simplicity of the story line belies the deep richness of McCall's writing. Lupita, a budding actress and poet, describes the new English words she learned as a child to be "like lemon drops, tart and sweet at the same time" and ears of corn as "sweating butter and painted with chili-powdered lime juice." Each phrase captures the essence of a moment or the depth of her pain. The power of Lupita's story lies also in the authenticity of her struggles both large and small, from dealing with her mother's illness to arguments with friends about acculturation. This book will appeal to many teens for different reasons, whether they have dealt with the loss of a loved one, aspire to write and act, are growing up Mexican American, or seeking their own identity amid a large family. Bravo to McCall for a beautiful first effort.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This autobiographical novel in verse chronicles Lupita's coming of age set against the backdrop of her mother's cancer diagnosis. I love the way that the author begins with the diagnosis, and then follows up with a section of poems about her memories of growing up. She then returns to the present, and the final section deals tenderly with the loss of her mother, and the way her father helps the family through the crisis with quiet strength. This novel rightfully won the Pura Belpré Author Award and it deserves wide exposure. I particularly appreciate the glossary of names, Spanish words, and cultural references, which ties readers to the world of South Texas and the Latino culture that is so prevalent in that region.
Starred Review
A resilient Mexican-American girl copes with familial obligation and loss in this free-verse novel... Lupita’s first-person tale captures pivotal moments of her high-school years in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, with glimpses back at her first six years in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico...With poignant imagery and well-placed Spanish, the author effectively captures the complex lives of teenagers in many Latino and/or immigrant families.

A promising, deeply felt debut.
School Library Journal
This stunning debut novel in verse chronicles the teenage years of Lupita, a character drawn largely from the author’s own childhood... Each phrase captures the essence of a moment or the depth of her pain. The power of Lupita’s story lies also in the authenticity of her struggles both large and small, from dealing with her mother’s illness to arguments with friends about acculturation... Bravo to McCall for a beautiful first effort.
Booklist Reviews
The close-knit family relationships, especially Mami and Lupita’s, are vividly portrayed, as is the healing comfort Lupita finds in words, whether written in her notebooks or performed onstage.
Diana Herald
I'm not big on verse novels but this is one for which I have no regrets. It is emotional and sad; the format is just right.
VOYA Reviews
Told from Lupita’s point of view and in free verse, McCall elegantly captures the voice of a maturing young woman. This story is filled with ideas concerning self and cultural identity, grief, and the strength of family. Lupita is a smart, compassionate character with which readers will quickly identify and sympathize.

...Those who take the time to savor this quiet book will not be disappointed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600604294
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 90,070
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Guadalupe Garcia McCall was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in Theater Arts and English, she now teaches English/Language Arts at a junior high school. Her poems for adults have appeared in more than twenty literary journals. Under the Mesquite, her first book, is a contemporary novel inspired by the difficult experiences her own family went through during her teen years. McCall lives with her husband and their three sons in the San Antonio, Texas, area.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I wish this book was a little longer or more descriptive; I feel

    I wish this book was a little longer or more descriptive; I feel it would be more bittersweet and emotional if it was like that. Anyways, this book was pretty good--about a Latina girl who's mom gets cancer. Her family goes through so much pain wishing her mother would live, and the people at her school are clueless and making fun of her non-Hispanic accent. Great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Lupita is a young girl when she moves to America from Mexico. Af

    Lupita is a young girl when she moves to America from Mexico. After years of happiness and joy her mother whom she had a beautiful relationship with was diagnosed with cancer. Lupita then has to take over the house to take care of her siblings and keep up with school.




    Under the Mesquite is an amazing real life story that the author Guadalupe Garcia McCall experienced her self. This book will inspire you and even bring tears to your eyes.When Lupita’s mom gets cancer her world falls apart. Suddenly she has to keep up with the house, school, and her siblings. She thinking about how things will change when/if her mom dies and has a hard time keeping up in school.




    The author Guadalupe Garcia McCall gives the best description ever! She gave great description in going back in time about her remembering how things were before her mom had cancer, how time passes, and how she feels and thinks.




    This is a motivating book that will make you smile and mourn. In some cases you may even relate to this amazing book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 26, 2012

    Under the Mesquite is written in free verse giving a view to the

    Under the Mesquite is written in free verse giving a view to the life of a Mexican- American’s life. The book shares the story of Lupe and her family having to cope with her mother’s illness and eventual death. Aspiring for their children to get a good education and to have a better life than possible in Mexico, the family moves to a border town in Texas. While reading you learn about the move, the birth of more siblings, the dad working far away, the siblings relationships, the mom's illness and her death. The book is beautifully written incorporating both English and Spanish words.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    AWESOME!!!!

    This book is a great read at any age, it has many verses that will make you stop and think. It also has many parts that will bring a tears to your eyes. Mrs. McCall please continue to write.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Yall pease read mine

    I know how this girl feels if you neeed any insiration type inspiration and go to the first one on the secind row

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2012

    5 stars......very highly recommended

    this was an excellent book....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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