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.
Check out the Vamos a Leer Educator's Guide for Under the Mesquite created by the staff at the Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII).
Check out the lesson plan Under the Mesquite developed by Oralia Garza de Cortés, Consultant for Latino Children’s Books, as part of the Association for Library Service to Children’s Día Family Book Club Curriculum. The project was part of the Everyone Reads @ your library grant funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
Check out what close reading looks like for Under the Mesquite.
Read Why Culturally Responsive Literature Matters in Middle and High School for Under the Mesquite and how to use Garcia's text to help medical students gain cultural awareness.
A Mesquite in the Rose Garden (0:52)
Making Tortillas (2:00)
Swimming the Rio Grande (2:17)
Guadalupe's Photo Album: Meet the "real" Lupita
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Learn more about Guadalupe Garcia McCall in “Guadalupe García McCall: A Storyteller of Cultures and Odysseys” by R. Joseph Rodríguez and KaaVonia Hinton in SIGNAL journal, the Journal of the International Reading Association’s Special Interest Group: Network on Adolescent Literature.
About the Creators
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.
About This Title
Pura Belpré Author Award Winner
William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist
Notable Children's Book
American Library Association (ALA)
Best of the Best Books
Chicago Public Library
Notable Books for a Global Society
International Reading Association (IRA)
Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award
Texas State University College of Education
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalist
Assembly on Literature for Adolescents
Best Teen Books
Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award
International Reading Association (IRA)
Interest Level:Grades 6 - 12
Reading Level:Grades 6 - 7
Middle Grade, YA interest, Siblings, Sharing & Giving, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Responsibility, Poetry, Overcoming Obstacles, Mothers, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Immigration, Home, Families, Education, Dreams & Aspirations, Coping with Death, Conflict resolution, Poverty, Empathy/Compassion, Gratitude, Integrity/Honesty , Leadership, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Persistence/Grit, Realistic Fiction, Self Control/Self Regulation, Pride, Courage, Mexico, Texas
Part of These Collections
Poetry Middle School, Poetry High School, Diverse Background English Collection Middle School, Diverse Background English Collection High School, Latin American English Collection Middle School, English Guided Reading Level X, Latin American English Collection High School, Realistic Fiction Middle School, Realistic Fiction High School, English Fiction Middle School, English Fiction Grades 6-12, Mexico Culture Collection, High-Low Books for Teens (Middle and High School), Lee & Low Poetry Collection, Sibling Collection Grades 6-12, Pura Belpré Award Collection, RITELL Middle & High School Collection