Under The Mesquite

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Under The Mesquite
Age Range
Release Date
October 01, 2011
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Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother's battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse.

When Lupita learns Mami has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don't always understand, become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami's life.

While her father cares for Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her seven younger siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she takes refuge in the shade of a mesquite tree, where she escapes the chaos at home to write. Forced to face her limitations in the midst of overwhelming changes and losses, Lupita rediscovers her voice and finds healing in the power of words.

Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita's journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Me Encanta Este Libro!
Overall rating
Writing Style
As the oldest of eight children, sixteen-year-old Lupita has a lot of responsibilities, but never resents it because her loving family takes care of each other, especially after moving to the United States from Mexico. Lupita excels in drama class, but suddenly her tears become easier to fake. Her mother has been diagnosed with cancer and her entire world has changed. While her beloved mother wastes away, her father becomes stressed over finances and Lupita has to raise a growing family that does not want to listen to her. She finds solace in writing poetry under the tenacious mesquite tree that grows in her mother's garden.

I've been wanting to read Under the Mesquite for a long time. I love novels in verse that are written from the perspective of someone from a different culture. Author Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a teacher, which makes me even more excited to support her.

McCall's writing really sings; the poems in this novel are longer, stretching over pages and drawing me into the borderlands where it is set. I particularly loved her descriptions of relationships, causing me to see them in a new light. One that caught my eye:

"The six of us sisters
Were round beads knotted side by side,
Like pearls on a necklace,
Strung so close together
We always make one another cry."

And another that feels like the perfect description of lifelong friends who are beginning to develop their own interests:

"Mireya and I have been in school
Together since first grade,
Two chicks cooped up in the same pen,
Pecking at each other,
Sometimes a little too hard."

Many books in the "mothers with cancer" genre don't focus on the financial aspects of treatment. For Lupita's family, the repercussions are harsh and unending. My heart felt for the children as they begged food from family and friends. I need to have this book on my shelf for students who need the reassurance that others have made it through similar circumstances.

Under the Mesquite was worth the wait...check it out!
Good Points
McCall's writing is wonderful...she is one to watch.
A good novel in verse for people new to the format; it doesn't feel as much like poetry as some do.
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One Amazing Read
Overall rating
Writing Style
I totally fell in love with this story. Beautifully written this tale has a Sandra Cisnernos feel to it with it's realistic and touching portrayal of Lupita and her family. This is also a coming of age story told in free verse. Each chapter flows and shows the rich details of Lupe's home and family life. I especially loved how her father is portrayed as a loving and handworking person who will do anything for his family. Some examples of the great details McCall weaves is showing Lupita's mami making tortillas in the kitchen with her own special magic. I also loved Lupita. Her journey through her mother's cancer and how she grows is beautifully shown down to how she deals with the language with her love of drama and poetry. I love how McCall shows us a loving family and a heroine who faces her mother's cancer with strength and courage. But mostly this is a story of hope that will stay with you.

At the end of the book is a glossary of Spanish words and terms.

This small novel is huge in heart and hope. A must add to any collection.
Good Points
Realistic portrayal of a loving and strong Latino family
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