icons

Enjoy my content?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel (Middle Grade)

THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY
by
Rebecca Balcárcel

Genre:  Contemporary / Middle Grade / Multi-cultural Family
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 332


SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!






Quijana is a girl in pieces.

One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana's Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn't know more about her family's heritage. One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she's found true friends. But she can't help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what's going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother.

In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.

PRAISE FOR THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY:

"Seriously, I have never felt so seen in a book." --Sophia Jimenez of @LatinxinPub

“Balcárcel’s well-rounded characters, complex friendships, and nuanced family dynamics will resonate with many readers. This is a title that will remain relevant long past its publication date. A must-have for all library collections.” -- School Library Journal starred review

“With poetic, flowing prose that sometimes feels more like a song and characters so convincing that they seem real, Balcárcel’s stunning debut depicts the struggles of being raised with two cultures and the challenges of not being “authentic” enough—in this case, “not Guatemalan enough” or “not American enough.” A lovely, moving, and realistic view of the struggles and insecurities—as well as the beauty—that comes from being bicultural.” -- Booklist starred review

"One of the best and most compassionate depictions of autism I have ever read in fiction.” -- Latinas Leyendo



CLICK TO PURCHASE
Indiebound      Barnes & Noble      Amazon






I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

"Being a little kid was easier than this. I wasn't half anything. I was a whole continent then, like Pangaea. Unsplit. Now I have tectonic plates. Mom looks at me and sees Grandma Miller's cheekbones; Dad sees the Carrillo nose. I see one land mass, but I'm wrong. My body is where Guatemala crashes into the United States. What happens to me, the whole me, when my plates shift, when my continents tear apart? No one told me twelve was earthquake season."

In this beautifully written story, readers navigate seventh grade right along with Quijana as she compassionately explores cultural identity and self-belonging amidst the tribulations of adolescence and the uncertainty of family illness and disability. Quijana's voice hooked me from the opening, establishing herself as a strong, relatable, and authentic protagonist. I was incredibly captivated by the author's ability to not only transport me back to the days of angst, embarrassment, and confusion that is being twelve and starting middle school, but also now as a mother, wanting to grab Quijana and hold her tight as she so eloquently expressed what we all need to hear regardless of our age:  We all belong in this world. 

Definitely preferring her Anglo side, it is only when Quijana's Guatemalan cousins move to town and convince her family to take a trip to Gautemala that she begins to truly question her self-identity. And though her parents encourage her to be herself, Quijana also begins to sense the familial pressure to embrace a Latin culture that she feels no connection to. Her father's upbringing is not her own, yet it is thrust upon her at a crucial coming of age moment. Her disappointments, feelings of frustration, and insecurities are vividly captured as she fights what she believes is a forced family connection. Ultimately however, her newfound hobby of playing the guitar allows her to speak the universal language of music that we can all understand: A hopeful message to a budding relationship between once divided worlds. 

"Everything's okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Quijana's Grandmother is an inspiring testament to the unconditional and unique bond shared between generations. Her grandmother's wisdom is insightful, yet relevant, and offers Quijana the powerful ability to become amazingly introspective. It's something you wish could be bottled up and passed around. Unfortunately, her grandmother's sudden health problems delivers another set of heartbreaking circumstances that Quijana must come to terms with. However, her grandmother's influence creates a positive touchstone for all future interactions with others. 

While Quijana's story may at first glance seem deeply personal, the author's masterful storytelling fashions a profoundly universal tale. This is an absolutely stunning debut that begs to be read-aloud and shared widely! 

        



Rebecca is a bi-cultural Latina who loves her autistic sons, her kitty, and serving the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars, where she was awarded the Jane Kenton Poetry Prize. THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY is her debut novel.

WEBSITE  |  INSTAGRAM  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  GOODREADS




GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS EACH RECEIVE: SIGNED COPY OF THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY  BOOKMARK & STICKER!
NOVEMBER 5-15, 2019
(U.S. Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
11/5/19
Author Video
11/5/19
BONUS Post
11/6/19
Review
11/7/19
Excerpt
11/8/19
Review
11/9/19
Notable Quotable
11/10/19
Guest Post
11/11/19
Review
11/12/19
Scrapbook Page
11/13/19
Review
11/14/19
Review


   blog tour services provided by
  

1 comment:

  1. Great review & bookstagram! Love this book inside and out.

    ReplyDelete

Become Bookishly Brilliant! Subscribe Now!