author: Guadelupe Garcia McCall
date: Sept, 2011, Lee and Low
main character: Lupita
In this her first book, Guadelupe Garcia McCall writes from memories of her own teen years to create this coming of age story. Lupita, the oldest of eight children has a very close relationship with her mother because of the responsibilities she has to help her family. This closeness makes secrets difficult and Lupita soon finds out her mother is seriously ill. The young girl worries about her mother and does more to help out at home while at the same time trying to come to terms with her own identity at school. McCall metaphorically uses elements of nature to describe relationships and characteristics not only in the title, but throughout the story.
At first what I missed most
were los girasoles,
my tall, unruly friends
with their bright yellow petals
and dark brown faces
always looking up
at the wide blue sky.
When Mami came looking for me
in the afternoons,
I used to suppress my giggles
as I hid behind those wild sunflowers.
It made me sad to know
that from our new home
I could not hear their voices
if they sang my name to the wind.
And I doubted los girasoles
would understand me anymore,
because now I was speaking
a different language.
I swallowed consonants
and burdened vowels with a sound
so dense the words fell straight
out of my mouth and hit the ground
before they could reach the river’s edge.
In Under the Mesquite McCall writes of all the elements necessary for a young girl to become a woman: the voices of matriarchs, the fathers, friends and teachers who each add to lessons that provide guidance along the way. She creates a character with whom readers can easily identify.
I reviewed an ARC sent by the publisher.
Kirkus Starred Review