Under the Mesquite

By School Library Journal

This stunning debut novel in verse chronicles the teenage years of Lupita, a character drawn largely from the author’s own childhood…The simplicity of the story line belies the deep richness of McCall’s writing. Lupita, a budding actress and poet, describes the new English words she learned as a child to be “like lemon drops, tart and sweet at the same time” and ears of corn as “sweating butter and painted with chili-powdered lime juice.” Each phrase captures the essence of a moment or the depth of her pain. The power of Lupita’s story lies also in the authenticity of her struggles both large and small, from dealing with her mother’s illness to arguments with friends about acculturation. This book will appeal to many teens for different reasons, whether they have dealt with the loss of a loved one, aspire to write and act, are growing up Mexican American, or seeking their own identity amid a large family. Bravo to McCall for a beautiful first effort.