UNDER THE MESQUITE by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee and Low, September 2011) is the story of Lupita, the oldest of eight children. She has to juggle school with helping out at the house especially now that her beloved Mami has been diagnosed with cancer. It is not easy for Lupita to juggle school and home demands. Papi is away a lot of the time on the job. And her brothers and sisters can truly be brats. But Lupita is determined to do all she can so that Mami will get well, and the family can return to some sense of normalcy. <335>
This novel in verse is first and foremost a story of family. This large and sometimes rambunctious family is closely knit. Lupita sees the love between her father and mother; she feels connected to all of her family in deep ways. It is the family and those bonds that sustain her as Mami battles cancer and as Lupita has to take on more than most teens do. McCall's writing is honest: while the love is strong, it is not enough to smooth over all of the rough patches in the lives of Lupita and her parents. Of course, I might be a tad prejudiced here since the novel is set in Texas and is written by a woman who moved from Mexico to Texas as a young girl.