Under the Mesquite
Told in verse sprinkled with Spanish terms (a glossary is included), this story of Lupita’s high-school years details her increasing responsibility within her large Mexican American family after Mami is diagnosed with cancer. Caring for seven younger siblings, keeping up with schoolwork and her drama roles, and staying connected with her classmates and friends while the worries gnaw at her take their toll, but she is strong. There are also moments of intense vulnerability. As high-school graduation nears, Lupita sees that her mother may not be there for it: “Suddenly I realize / how much I can’t control, how much / I am not promised.” The close-knit family relationships, especially Mami and Lupita’s, are vividly portrayed, as is the healing comfort Lupita finds in words, whether written in her notebooks or performed onstage.