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.
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
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 is now an assistant professor of English at George Fox University in Oregon. Her poems for adults have appeared in more than twenty literary journals, and she won the Pura Belpré Award for her first novel, Under the Mesquite. You can find her online at guadalupegarciamccall.com.