Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Under the Mesquite

For Lupita, family is everything.  Her mother is the driving force that keeps everything together from Lupita's young childhood in Mexico to life now in los Estados Unidos.  Mami can make everything work from squabbling little brothers and sisters to fresh tortillas to a yard full of beautiful rosebushes.  As the oldest, Lupita has always helped out, but she doesn't really mind the extra time those chores give her with Mami.  Papi spends most of his time working to provide for his family and save for the future, so Mami counts on Lupita to help with the little kids.

When Lupita is 14, her mother is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes forever.  There are moments of lightness and occasional trips to Mexico to visit family and friends there, but most of the family's energy and all of their prayers are devoted helping Mami get better.

Even with the stress about Mami and her responsibilities at home, Lupita finds time to take drama at school, and she's pretty good.  But as Mami's cancer gets worse, Lupita feels overwhelmed with responsibility, and her efforts to improve herself, could pull her away from family and friends.

The verse novel is a beautiful story of heartbreak and triumph and the struggle of balancing who you were with who you want to be.  I highly recommend Guadalupe Garcia McCall's novel.  Plus, she is San Antonio middle school teacher who used her own immigration experiences to inform Lupita's story.

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