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Under the Mesquite

By Guadalupe Garcia McCall


As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family. Suddenly Lupita must face a whole new set of challenges, with new roles to play, and no one is handing her the script.

In the midst of juggling life as a high school student, testing her wings as an actress, and dealing with friends who don’t always understand, Lupita desperately wants to support Mami in whatever way she can. While her father stays with Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she escapes the chaos of home by writing in the shade of a mesquite tree. Overwhelmed by change and loss, she takes refuge in the healing power of words.

Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita’s journey is both heart-wrenching and hopeful. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about the testing of family bonds, the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience, and the kind of love that cannot be uprooted.

Booktalk with author Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Check out the educator's guide for Under The Mesquite created by the Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) teacher-oriented book group, Vamos A Leer.

Discussion Questions

Poetry Podcasts by the Author:
A Mesquite in the Rose Garden (0:52)
Making Tortillas (2:00)
Swimming the Rio Grande (2:17)
Uprooted (1:48)

Guadalupe's Photo Album: Meet the "real" Lupita

Pura Belpre Author Award

William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist

Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults

Best Teen Books of 2011
Kirkus Reviews

2013 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

More awards...
Interest Level
Grades 6 and up
Reading Level
Grades 4 and up
Dreams & Aspirations, Education, Family Traditions, Home, Immigration, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Mothers, Overcoming Obstacles, Poetry, Responsibility, Self Esteem/Identity, Sharing & Giving, Siblings, YA interest
About the Creators

Guadalupe Garcia McCall was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in Theater Arts and English, she now teaches English/Language Arts at a junior high school. Her poems for adults have appeared in more than twenty literary journals. McCall is an up-and-coming talent whose debut YA novel, Under the Mesquite, won the Pura Belpré Award and was named a Morris Award finalist. McCall lives with her husband and their three sons in the San Antonio, Texas, area. You can find her on the Web at guadalupegarciamccall.com.

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