A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Under the Mesquite is a novel written in expressive free verse that follows Lupita through her high school years, with flashbacks to her early childhood in Mexico. Lupita's poetry is filled with more than the usual teen angst, however. With a mother battling cancer, a father who often must leave home to earn money for the family, and seven siblings for whom she, as the eldest, is frequently responsible, Lupita does not have an easy life. Her frequent despair battles with fierce hope and a determination to make something of her life, symbolized by the "feisty little mesquite" that grows in the middle of her mother's rose garden. Under the Mesquite was named an ALA Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association.
What's the story?
As the oldest of eight, Lupita has a special bond with her mami. When she finds out her mother ther has cancer, she is devastated. With worry about Mami's sickness as a backdrop, Lupita goes through four years of high school, reminiscing about the Mexican homeland she left at age 6, analyzing her relationships with her family and friends, making her way through school as a drama student, and dealing with the heartbreak and worry she feels about her mother. She finds comfort in writing her thoughts in verse under the sturdy mesquite tree in her family's backyard.
Is it any good?
The Spanish words and phrases sprinkled liberally throughout UNDER THE MESQUITE add an exotic flavor to the free verse, yet never inhibit the flow or clarity of the story. Narrator Lupita moves the reader easily back and forth through time, remembering her childhood, thinking about her future, and experiencing the heartbreaking present as she watches her mother's health deteriorate, all while struggling to hold onto her dreams of being a college student, an actress, and a writer.
Under the Mesquite has won numerous awards, was named an ALA Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association, and made the Young Adult Library Services Association's 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lupita finds strength and inspiration sitting under the mesquite tree in the garden. Is there a place you can go to give you comfort like that?
Have you ever had to reverse roles like this and take care of a parent or older person? How did it make you feel?
Lupita writes out her sadness (and her joy) in poetry. Do you have a way to express your feelings when you don't feel you can talk about them with anyone?
- Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Lee & Low Books
- Publication date: September 1, 2011
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 224
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
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