Title: Under the Mesquite
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Publication Date: October, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction (Multicultural)/Novel in Verse
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 that her mother has cancer. Now, everything that was predictable and normal about her life are no longer her focus. Will her life ever return to normal again?
What I Think: This book is a beautiful book in verse that not only has a touching narrative, but has exquisite verse. The narrative deals with a topic that many readers will have some sort of connection with, cancer, as well has coming of age in a household where the disease has struck. But what makes this book different than other stories about the effects of cancer is that it also tells the story of growing up as a Mexican-American here in America.
Read Together: Grades 6 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, La Linea by Ann Jaramillo, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Snatch of Text: These are just three of almost a hundred amazing snatches of text that would be great mentor texts for different poetic elements.
"and the moon in this place
is wearing a pale, thin dress
as it seems to jump from behind
one cloud to another, hiding
its exquisite face from us." (p. 144)
"For my sisters, senorita means
having someone to worship:
it is the wonder of
seeing their oldest sister
looking like Cinderella
on her way to the ball." (p. 76)
"The other girls follow them,
a convoy of high-heeled hyenasin mass migration." (p. 81)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Making connections, Visualizing, Characterization
Writing Strategies to Practice: Any type of figurative language/poetic elements- personification, symbolism, simile, and metaphor.
Writing Prompts: At the center of Lupita's life you find her family, write a poem about your family using multiple poetic elements.
Topics Covered: Cancer, Immigration, Family, Identity, Happiness
Translated to Spanish: No, although the book has Spanish sprinkled throughout.