Catie's Reviews > Under the Mesquite

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
1886642
's review

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011, poetry-verse, ya, for-review, book-club-verse

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 a family of eight children, her complicated relationship with her parents, her dreams, her Mexican-American identity, and her burgeoning independence. And overshadowing it all, tying it all together, is the very moving story of Lupita dealing with her mother’s illness.

I love the juxtaposition of Lupita’s capable, resilient, perhaps overly responsible self at home with her complete bewilderment and loss in the face of her mother’s illness. I highlighted both of these passages, and reading them together just breaks my heart:

Mami, I’m good for more than
changing diapers and putting little ones
to sleep. I can bear up when things
go wrong. You’re the one
who raised me to be that way.”


“Suddenly I realize
how much I can’t control, how much
I am not promised.
The thought of it
hits me broadside. More tears
squeeze out. I wipe them away.”

How much I am not promised.
Isn’t that beautiful?

There’s a ten to fifteen page glossary in the back, to define the Spanish words which are used frequently in her verse; however, I doubt you will even need it. She uses them so seamlessly…even in another language; it’s hard not to understand what she’s saying.

Perfect Musical Pairing

Lila Downs – Ceilo Rojo (Red Sky)

I think that this song is about a lost love, but when I was reading through the lyrics (in English…because I’m an ignorant American I only speak one language), I was so struck with all the feelings of loss that Guadalupe Garcia McCall so perfectly describes in this book.

While I'm sleeping
I feel that we walk
The two of us, very close to each other,
Towards a blue sky
But when I wake up - the red sky
You are missing.


Also seen on The Readventurer.
16 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Under the Mesquite.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

October 20, 2011 – Shelved
December 4, 2011 – Started Reading
December 4, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011
December 4, 2011 – Shelved as: poetry-verse
December 4, 2011 – Shelved as: ya
December 4, 2011 – Shelved as: for-review
December 5, 2011 – Finished Reading
September 12, 2016 – Shelved as: book-club-verse

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Regina I saw this was on netgalley ...


Catie I just requested it! Thanks for the heads up :) I missed it the first time around.


Regina Catie I am glad you enjoyed it! I still need to do my review, hopefully today.


Catie I'm working on mine today too! I'm excited to see what you have to say.


Crowinator Excellent review -- this is a beautiful book. I couldn't help quoting verses in my review either. I will have to seek out that song now; the lyrics are perfect.


Crowinator Oh, also, If you want a similar heartbreaking, lyrical novel-in-verse read, try All the Broken Pieces.


Regina Catie I love your review, I agree completely with thisThere’s a ten to fifteen page glossary in the back, to define the Spanish words which are used frequently in her verse; however, I doubt you will even need it. She uses them so seamlessly…even in another language; it’s hard not to understand what she’s saying. I think this is because she uses words with meaning in Spanish, not random words to prove her characters also speak spanish (which I believe is a trap many authors fall in to).


message 8: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Catie this review is stunning.
This was definitely one of the books that most surprised me this year.
I wish more people would read this book :)


Catie Thanks you three :)

Crowinator, I'll have to check out that book; I'd like to read more of these.

Regina, you're so right. She doesn't just use those words for effect...it feels natural, like the way that Lupita would speak. And she uses so much context that it's easy to infer most of their meanings.

Jo, me too. It's a really well done little book.


Sonya Love those lines! how much I can’t control, how much I am not promised. It's beautiful! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Great review, Catie. :-)


Catie Thanks Sonia! I really loved this book - my first in verse and one of the best, I think.


Regina I loved this book, I plan to do a re-read this year.


back to top