Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: ARC from Publisher (won on LibraryThing)
Series: No, StandAlone
Buy It: The Book Depository
When Lupita sees Mami crying over a pesky mesquite growing in her rose garden, she knows something is wrong. Through the kitchen window, she overhears that Mami has cancer
. After an operation, things seem to return to normal for Lupita and her family, and they go on with their lives, going back and forth between attending school, working, and living in the United States and visiting family and friends in Mexico. However, when Mami’s cancer returns, Papi doesn’t know whether he should accompany Mami during her long convalescence at an out of town cancer clinic or stay home to care for Lupita and her seven brothers and sisters. Suddenly, being a high school student, dealing with difficult friends, starring in the school play, even writing, become less important to Lupita than doing whatever it takes to save Mami’s life.
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall had me wonderstruck. I wasn't shocked when I read that Mami had cancer because I read that in the summary. I was shocked at the incredible writing found in only 207 pages but, then again, sometimes the best things come in small packages. This book, possibly a novella, only took me about 2 hours to read. I was on the train, so it was perfect: small to carry around, easy to finish, and all around great book! At first, when I won this book from LibraryThing's early reviewers program, I wasn't all that excited because I'm usually not into books with heavy cultural references but, I was pleasantly surprised!
Under the Mesquite had many characters including Lupita , her mother, father, seven brothers and sisters, friends, cousins, and other family members. For both your sake and mine, I'll only comment on the major characters along with any others that had a large impact on me. Lupita was a great character. The Novel follows her from freshman year in high school all the way to freshman year in college. I really liked how honest she was; she was a senior in high school and she wasn't trying to act mature, she let her real feelings pour out and the reader sees how scared she actually is. I really loved that. It was also evident that she couldn't handle taking care of seven kids. I absolutely loved how much adoration Lupita had for her mother. She was so respectful, too. Throughout the book, Lupita's true feelings were expressed through stanzas upon stanzas of absolutely brilliant verse. Mami's character was great, too. We saw her through Lupita's eyes, thus making her seem like a superhero. She managed 8 children and her husband, she truly was a superhero.
Honestly the only thing that I didn't really enjoy about Under the Mesquite was the pacing. I was a bit confused because on one page Lupita was a freshman in high school and the next, a sophomore. It went on like this throughout the book, so I recommend that if you decide to read it, you try to pay as much attention to the point in time so you avoid confusion!
Under the Mesquite may be small, but it packs quite a punch. It's beautiful verse is sure to hit home. You need to read this book. If you have a huge To Be Read stack at home, it doesn't matter. All you need is about an hour or two. I promise that you won't regret it!