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Under the Mesquite

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,559 Ratings  ·  469 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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"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
Guadalupe McCall
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I like my sweet, little book. I think it's beautiful.
Oct 20, 2011 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
Jun 08, 2011 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
Update! Here's my full review:

This was a book that I selected for one of the categories of my young adult materials class. We were given the option of choosing a book that was either nominated or won the Pura Belpre medal. I read through the descriptions of quite a few books; however, for some reason this book stood out to me. And after it was all said and done I’m glad that I actually took the time to read this book. It was heart-wrenching. The oldest of
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
Aug 10, 2011 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
Mar 11, 2012 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.
Barb Middleton
Oct 06, 2012 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,
Ma'lis Wendt
Mar 25, 2012 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.
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
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
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
Nov 27, 2011 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
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.
Apr 21, 2013 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).
Sep 09, 2012 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.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Under the Mesquite is a wonderfully written story. Lupita the oldest daughter tells the story of her journey between Mexico and Estados Unidos. Lupita is dealing with the challenges of moving to the United States, keeping with her culture, and being the eldest daughter. I hope McCall writes a sequel just to continue on Lupita's journey.

I can't wait to tell my students at school about this wonderfully written story that is in free verse.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Under the Mesquite is a beautiful book. While it was a quick read, it lingered in my mind. I found myself continuing to think about it days after I'd finished it. It's a book that is certainly worth a second (or even third) read. The first time through I was engrossed in the story, only subconsciously aware of the beauty and simplicity of McCall's verse. When I returned to the novel later, I found myself incredibly moved by the imagery and sentiments conveyed through McCall's words. I think Lyn ...more
Sara Cook
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely novel in verse about a girl surviving through the sadness of loss.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this with a group of intermediate English Language Learning adults. We were bowled over by the beautiful language found within this novel in verse. Can't wait to read more by her. Great book club read!
Dec 04, 2012 added it
Shelves: poetry
McCall, G.C. (2011). Under the mesquite. New York: Lee and Low Books. 224 pp. ISBN: 978-1-60060-429-4. (Hardcover); $17.95.*

Any time a book begins with a poem about a young girl creeped out about finding and holding her own umbilical cord, tesoro, I am hooked! These 47 poems tell the story of Lapita, a high school student trying to juggle school, friends, and family. Unfortunately her mother’s cancer has her off balance and these juggled items come crashing down. McCall uses her Texas setting an
Maria Chavez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2015 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
Aug 01, 2012 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
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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

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“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.” 4 likes
More quotes…