Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Under the Mesquite: A review

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a small book with a large dose of beauty and poignancy.

Written in a poetic style, Guadalupe takes us through her family life in Mexico and Texas as she deals with a horrifying truth: Her mother has cancer.

I could relate to the foreign feelings Guadalupe has as she skirts between her birth land of Mexico and the less familiar United States to where her large family relocates. I grew up as a missionary kid in Japan, and had to straddle two countries and two cultures---the land of my citizenship (USA) and the land of my childhood memories (Japan). I also know the anguish of a loved one diagnosed with cancer. My son Daniel was three when the malignant tumor was found in his neck.

Of course, I love words that wrap around my heart. And this novel has many scenarios that speak to me, particularly the ones that deal with the emotions Guadalupe experiences from the demise of her mother's health.

"Tears run down my cheeks without my permission,leaving hot trails on my face like rivulets of melting wax from a candle burned much too long. But I don't want to hide my feelings anymore. I'm tired of acting, tired of pretending that everything's all right when it's not."

"Our bare feet cold on the old linoleum, we huddle and cry together, fingers, hands, and arms all intertwined. We are tangled up like three rambling rose vines yet torn apart inside. . . . We know Mami's gone."

Guadalupe's world crumbles when her precious Mami breathes her last, but her wise father encourages her to visit his mother in Mexico for a change of scenery. Reluctantly, Guadalupe goes. Under a mesquite tree, she pens ". . . a whole new batch of poems, poems filled with memories and hope, because that's what Mami would've wanted."

Although Under the Mesquite is slated for young adults, I feel it's a captivating read for adults of any age. Guadalupe finds comfort in writing, something that has always come easily for her. As an advocate for writing from pain and loss, I applaud her for using pen and paper to bring inner healing.

Do yourself a favor and absorb this story of a teen's world and how she grieves her mother's death and manages, somehow, like many of us, to embrace the strength to carry on.

Order from Amazon or from Lee and Low Books.

~ Alice J. Wisler
[I received a copy of Under the Mesquite from the publisher in return for my honest review.]

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