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Under the Mesquite

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,166 Ratings  ·  396 Reviews
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 scho
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 31st 2011 by Lee & Low Books (first published September 15th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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"Someday my words will
take flight and claim the sky."

This is such beautiful little book.
That is why this review is not going to be like my others because it would take you less time to just read this book than it would be to read my full review.
So this is the Theatrical Cut.
I could go on and on about how gorgeous Ms Garcia McCall’s writing is and how she seamlessly flits between Spanish and English words and explores two completely different cultures and the issues that come with bein
Dec 07, 2011 Catie rated it really liked it
I think this is my first novel in verse, and it’s a gorgeous introduction to the form. Guadalupe Garcia McCall writes very simple, almost sweet poetry, but she also manages to convey so much about the experiences of a young girl, at home in two countries, and forced to shoulder much more than the average sixteen year old.

The novel as a whole is very short, and is strung together with two to three page verses which highlight different small parts of Lupita’s life: her role as the oldest sister in
May 09, 2014 Cara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: verse fans
I hadn't planned on writing a review for this book today, but my mind just kept turning the book over and over in my head and creating a restless energy that I can't seem to stop. This is going to sound corny but I wish that my heart could write the review for me because I don't think my mind has the ability to translate and convey why this book had such a strong impact on me. I can just feel myself get achy inside thinking about the book. A good ache though.

Lupita has many dreams. She moved to
Sometimes I unintentionally hit a theme in my reading, and as I started tearing up at a section in this book, I realized it’s the one of many stories I’ve read in the last few months about a young person dealing with the loss of a parent to cancer. (The others are A Monster Calls and Putting Makeup on Dead People, and if I expand it even more, I can count Liesl & Po, where Liesel’s father has just died from illness.) They all are wildly different in plot and execution but have the same emoti ...more
Beautiful absolutely beautiful. Under the Mesquite is a story about a young girl growing up to adulthood. It is a story about saying good-bye and about the loss of a loved one so integral to one’s life that it is impossible to imagine life without them. Under the Mesquite is about a family’s journey across the border of one country and into another country and how people make cultural adjustments and acclimate to a new home. And, this story is about going home and how going home can help us figu ...more
Guadalupe McCall
Jul 09, 2009 Guadalupe McCall rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I like my sweet, little book. I think it's beautiful.
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
So I'm going to tell you a secret. Back in middle school/early high school I used to write bad poetry. Then one day I had an epiphany that I was writing mopey teen poetry and stopped. Then I went through a phase where I decided that I didn't like or understand poetry. Until senior year of college when I took a literature course. We studied poetry and I discovered that I do in fact like some poetry (mopey teenagers need not apply.)

So I'm still on shaky ground with poetry. I love "Do not go gentle
‘Under the Mesquite’ was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Lee & Low Books.
Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

2.5 stars

The Storyline

‘Under the Mesquite’ tells the story of Lupita and her Mexican American family. Lupita struggles with finding her own identity in a new place after her family moves from Mexico to the United States. To make matters worse she has discovered that her mother has cancer and will undergo surgery to hopefully give her more time on this Earth. Despera
Feb 21, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
This tenderly written novel in verse describes one family's move from Mexico to the United States. Life was good for the large family--there are eight children--in Mexico, but because the father found work across the border, they moved north to Eagle Pass. They return to Mexico as often as possible, savoring happy times there as well as new experiences in the United States. Mami loves her rose bushes and plants them in the front yard. When a stubborn mesquite tree refuses to die, she finally giv ...more
Barb Middleton
Oct 06, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
Enjoy the words in this novel-in-verse as they unfurl and scoop you through the inked pages. Lupita, the oldest of eight children, learns to deal with her mother getting cancer as a high school student. Lupita's family lived in Mexico before moving to the United States. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Lupita, poetically narrates this story enriching the text with a beautiful blend of two cultures and languages. The chapter, Uprooted, can stand alone as a free verse poem. "I doubted los giras ...more
The Reading Countess
Thanks to Netgalley.

I didn't want it to end.
Cancer can be a tricky slope to write about since it, well, has been written about. A lot. And most not well.
Under the Mesquite is not that kind of book.

This is a book that pulls at your heart, makes you recognize yourself no matter where you live or who you are, and keeps you thinking long after the cover closes.

I loved the Spanglish words mixed in. Truthfully, I miss hearing them hit my own ears. As a gringa in San Antonio twenty years ago,
Mar 24, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
Beautiful novel-in-verse about identity, grief, and healing - officially YA, but this is great title for middle school kids and even some younger, I think. Sad and hopeful - perfect for readers who love emotional books and for classes studying the immigrant experience and Latin American culture.
Ma'lis Wendt
Mar 25, 2012 Ma'lis Wendt rated it it was amazing
A novel in poetry and a Morris Debut Novel Honor Book. Garcia McCall tells her story of moving to Texas from Mexico, life in a large family and her mother's death. I found her telling of the story very moving.
Edward Sullivan
A beautifully written family story and an impressive debut novel.
Book Concierge
Lupita is the oldest of eight children, and just beginning high school. Born in Mexico, she and her parents immigrated to Texas when she was a six years old and have lived in Eagle Pass ever since. They are a close-knit family and Lupe does all she can as the oldest to help her mother care for the younger children. Like all teens she has to find her individual voice amid the cacophony of siblings, friends and relatives, and juggle the expectations of her parents, grandparents and teachers agains ...more
Betti Napiwocki
Under the Mesquite is an “outstanding original children’s book which portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience” which meets the Belpre Award terms for eligibility. It is also written by a Mexican author who lives in the United States, namely Texas. I felt that from what little I know or have gleamed about Mexican culture, McCall presented an authentic look through the life of her main character, Lupita. The readers follow Lupita through her teen years, and glimpse her fami ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it
I liked the writing a lot here, as I think the verse actually served the story well. However -- and a big one -- the ending really left me a little disappointed because the entire book revolves around how Lupita gives up everything to take care of her family (her mom's got cancer and needs treatment) yet suddenly she decides to attend college. She's been writing and acting at school and she was passionate about both, but she didn't suggest to me she wanted more than that.

My biggest issue came i
This is book 11 for the YALSA best books challenge. I can see why it was on my list twice (once for the Morris Award and once for the Best Fiction for Young Adults).

This is a book of poetry (which also means quick read for those reluctant readers). Lupita is the oldest of eight kids. She was born in Mexico but her family moved to Los Estados Unidos when she was young. Although she often goes back to Mexico to visit her family there, she doesn't quite believe her parents when they tell her she h
Apr 21, 2013 Bayla rated it really liked it
Written as a collection of poems, this book about a family struggling with the illness of their mother is brimming with love and pain. Metaphors abound, including the metaphor of the stubborn mesquite tree among the delicate roses, and lend the book additional beauty. My favorite quote:
"And the pomegranates,/
like memories, are bittersweet/
as we huddle together,/
remembering just how good/
life used to be" (p.129).
Sarah (YA Love)
I'm not sure what I think of Under the Mesquite. I'm typically a huge fan of verse, but I felt like the verse in this novel didn't always work. At times the verse was really choppy, but there are also plenty of beautiful lines. The actual story, though, felt like it was missing something, and the ending really threw me. Her mother and family are important to her, but I often felt like I needed more from the story. More needed to be fleshed out.
Mar 07, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll-539
"En los Estados Unidos / I trained my tongue / and twisted syllables / to form words / that sounded hollow, / like the rain at midnight / dripping into tin pails / through the thatched roof / of our abuelita's house."
McCall's collection of verse poetry is fitting for the story being told in "Under the Mesquite". The flow of the poems from one line to the next, even from each set to the next, allows the reader to transition through Lupita's journey as though we were a part of her. The poems evoke
Sep 09, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it
A lovely YA book written in verse, this is the story of a family moving back and forth between the US and Mexico, cultural changes they experience, and dealing with loss.
Nov 01, 2015 MaryannP rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a poetry novel about a young girl named Lupita and her family. Lupita is the oldest of 8 children and is a 14 year old freshman. She takes charge after her mom is diagnosed with cancer. She was born in Mexico, along with three siblings and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was six years old. Her four other siblings were born in the U.S.

The dad is a central character in the story as he is the bread winner who works hard and works overtime to create savings accounts for each of h
Cheryl Clark
Feb 02, 2013 Cheryl Clark rated it really liked it
Under the Mesquite is the semi-autobiographical novel in verse of Guadalupe Garcia McCall in which the main character's life is slowly shaken apart by her mother's cancer and eventual demise. It is told with beautiful descriptions, such as this--
Mami's cultivating six budding
Daughters and two rowdy sons:
Eight thriving blue roses
Clustered together
So closely, they tremble
As they cling to the withering
Stem of her waning life.
And this quote just came from me randomly opening the book. It is full of
Summary: Lupita's family came to Texas to follow the American dream when she was a child. Her father is always working and her mother's only job is to be a mother. Lupita had a life that she adored- She is the oldest of 8 siblings and has always had a set role in her family: a mini-mom helping her mother raise her siblings. She couldn't ask for anything else. But then Lupita notices her mother acting depressed and crying by the mesquite tree in the rose garden. Then Lupita eavesdrops and learns ...more
Oct 04, 2011 Doret rated it really liked it
A novel in verse. Lupita loves writing in her journal. The oldest of eight siblings, Lupita has a lot of responsibilities even more when her mother becomes ill. The story spans Lupita's high school years and is broken up into six parts. I either like a verse novel or I don't, there is no middle ground. I consider verse a structured free form, that requires a certain amount of rhythm. Its easy to find poorly written novels in this style but the good ones are come by. McCall's debut is a great one ...more
Oct 09, 2012 may rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Verses fans / The Weight of Water
"Someday my words will
take flight and claim the sky."

Lupina moved from Mexico to Los Estados Unidos when she was six year old. With seven younger brothers and sisters, a father who works very hard, she is the one to take care of her sibling at home with her mother. But when Lupina is a freshman in high school her mother is diagnosed with a cancer. And this is where the journey of a girl with a notebook filled of words starts.

Under the Mesquite follows a family full of dreams, chasing them thro
Sep 15, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-books
I freaked out last night because I picked this up to read thinking the review was due next week. Horror of horrors- it was due that day! I had erred! I relaxed quite a bit when I realized that it was a novel in verse and I read it easily in about 45 minutes. I got up early this morning and wrote the review - so it was only about 6 hours late...

This was one of those surprise books for me again. I dreaded reading it because the cover and the title are not appealing. I hope they tweak the cover art
May 07, 2012 Terri rated it really liked it
"Under the Mesquite," winner of the 2012 Pura Belpre Award for Latina/Latino authors of literature for children and youth, is the poignant story of Mexican born Lupita. As a child, Lupita is uprooted from her home in Mexico when her parents get green cards and move to Texas in search of the American Dream. In America, the family does all of the "right" things including working hard, saving for a rainy day, going to school and doing well there, and supporting each other as a family. They are livi ...more
Kelly Hager
Feb 06, 2012 Kelly Hager rated it really liked it
Lupita is the oldest of eight children, and she's close with her parents, but especially her mom. So it's especially hard on her when her mom is diagnosed with cancer. At first, her mom does really well and the chemo works. But then the cancer comes back and the treatment isn't working. She volunteers to watch her siblings so that her parents can go to a cancer treatment center in Galveston, but doesn't take into account how hard it will be to go to school and keep up there, as well as become a ...more
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Class of 2014: Under the Mesquite 4 5 Jun 06, 2013 09:15AM  
Wild Things: YA G...: October 2012- Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall 3 13 Oct 18, 2012 10:46PM  
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I was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. My family immigrated into the U.S. when I was six years old. I grew up in Eagle Pass, a small, border town in South Texas. Eagle Pass is the setting of both, my debut novel in verse, UNDER THE MESQUITE, and my 2nd novel, SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS, fall of 2012 from TU Books. After high school, I went off to Alpine in West Texas to study to become a tea ...more
More about Guadalupe Garcia McCall...

Share This Book

“And the pomegranates,/
like memories, are bittersweet/
as we huddle together,/
remembering just how good/
life used to be”
“Sometimes it's best to take things down and start all over again. It's the way of the world.” 3 likes
More quotes…