Born in Mexico, Guadalupe’s family immigrated to Eagle Pass, Texas (a border town) when she was 6. Her stories very much draw on her personal experience as a Mexican-American immigrant and the complexities that involves. In her own words, “I like to sit on my porch, listen to the sounds of nature, and write stories about the complexities and magic of growing up. When I write, I think about how important and valuable life and all of its experiences are, so I try to write stories that give meaning to those experiences” (Author’s Web site).
Her debut novel, Under the Mesquite, our May 2013 book group title, garnered her a Pura Belpré Award; Honorable Mention 2012 Americas Award; a 2012 William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist; the Kirkus Review’s Top 10 Can’t Miss Fall Books for Teens. Lupita is a young girl who’s mother becomes sick with cancer. She must grow up fast, caring for 7 other siblings all while navigating the difficult teenage years. From Amazon:
“…Lupita’s journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience… Drawing from her own teen years for inspiration, McCall highlights life in the borderlands …With poignant imagery and well-placed Spanish, the author effectively captures the complex lives of teenagers in many Latino and/or immigrant families.”‘
Her new book, due out in October, Summer of the Mariposas, “is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love” (Publisher’s Web site). A little macabre, but wonderful nonetheless, Summer is about a group of sisters, las hermanitas” who take an Odyssean adventure across the border to return a man’s body to his family. Things aren’t always as they seem, however, and fording la frontera (the border) and explaining themselves to their mother may be harder than battling Chupacabras.
Both books (ages 12 and up) clearly albeit differently deal with the life and difficulty of “one foot here and one foot there”; that is, being an immigrant and wanting so badly to both hold onto your heritage and smoothly fit into your new place. McCall’s free verse writing brings a special honest beauty to Under the Mesquite and Summer of the Mariposas should prove to be no less delightful and poignant. Continue to keep your eye out for great things from this author.
Battling chupacabras on a daily basis,