This is a coming of age story I will want my daughter to read.
For two days, I was thrust into Lupita’s world, the teenaged daughter of Mexican immigrants who have built a middle-class life in Texas. She’s the eldest of eight children who have a loving mother and father. Theirs is the happy tale of immigrants achieving the American dream.
But then Mami is diagnosed with cancer. Lupita takes on the responsibilities of taking care of her siblings as her mother withers, and her father stops working to care for his wife. The novel pulled me into the emotional lows of Lupita’s life. From worrying about her mother to going hungry with her siblings, Garcia McCall makes it possible to feel the character’s pain.
I saw this book when I went to the SCBWI conference in New York last June. I then saw it when I visited my local library’s Spanish section. I checked it out thinking I’ll read it little-by-little since I’m working on finishing my novel. That was the plan, but I didn’t put it down until I’d consumed the last word.
I’m happy-as-pie to have discovered Garcia McCall. She’s a talented writer who uses free verse to wind us in an out of the details of Lupita’s world. I was immersed in the setting of Texas, and Mexico, as well as the pain of coming to terms with a beloved mother’s passing. Lupita uses her love of acting to survive. In one scene, Lupita is advised to use lollipops to lose her accent, which eventually means she’s made fun of for losing her Mexicanness. Her response: “I know who I am.”
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Publisher: Lee & Low Books