Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Publication Date: 10/31/11
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Blurb (GR): Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother's battle with cancer. A novel in verse.
I think this is my first novel in verse, and it’s a gorgeous introduction to the form. Guadalupe Garcia McCall writes very simple, almost sweet poetry, but she also manages to convey so much about the experiences of a young girl, at home in two countries, and forced to shoulder much more than the average sixteen year old.
The novel as a whole is very short, and is strung together with two to three page verses which highlight different small parts of Lupita’s life: her role as the oldest sister in a family of eight children, her complicated relationship with her parents, her dreams, her Mexican-American identity, and her burgeoning independence. And overshadowing it all, tying it all together, is the very moving story of Lupita dealing with her mother’s illness.
I love the juxtaposition of Lupita’s capable, resilient, perhaps overly responsible self at home with her complete
bewilderment and loss in the face of her mother’s illness. I highlighted both of these passages, and reading them together just breaks my heart:
“Mami, I’m good for more than
changing diapers and putting little ones
to sleep. I can bear up when things
go wrong. You’re the one
who raised me to be that way.”
“Suddenly I realize
how much I can’t control, how much
I am not promised.
The thought of it
hits me broadside. More tears
squeeze out. I wipe them away.”
How much I am not promised. Isn’t that beautiful?
There’s a ten to fifteen page glossary in the back, to define the Spanish words which are used frequently in her verse; however, I doubt you will even need it. She uses them so seamlessly…even in another language; it’s hard not to understand what she’s saying.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Lila Downs – Ceilo Rojo (Red Sky)
While I'm sleeping
I feel that we walk
The two of us,
very close to each other,
Towards a blue sky
But when I wake up - the red sky
You are missing.