Ready to discover another great book for this 2019? Take a look…

The Other Half Of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel

Genre: Fiction
Source: Chronicle Books
Rating: 4’5/5

About The Book

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.

My Thoughts

I don’t usually read books for young children, but the plot of The Other Half of Happy intrigued me, let’s be honest, I couldn’t put it down!
Quijana is half Guatemalan and half American, but she feels American, she has lived all her life in America, doesn’t speak Spanish and has never been to Guatemala. So, when her parents decide to travel to Guatemala to visit her family, she doesn’t want to go, she’s scared to be ignored and underestimated by this part of the family that she never met. It doesn’t help that at the new school the Spanish community bully her, it seems that no one can accept that even if her father is from Guatemala she doesn’t speak Spanish at all! She will meet two new friends that will help her in the worst situations, because sometimes with a good friend on your side you can save the world, don’t you think?
I was really touched by this story, we are living in Ireland but we are from Catalonia, my son doesn’t speak at all Spanish and people in Spain see it with bad eyes, so I can understand Quijana emotions and feelings. She is American, so why having a dark hair and brown skin means that you are different?
I was surprised with all the varieties of themes that this book touches; love, friendship, illness, family… I think this is not only a book to read the young ones of the family but to read with the parents and their children. It is a book that makes you want to talk to them, explain a little bit how the world it is and that there are problems that are better shared than keept locked.
This is a beautiful story that will be in my heart forever, no matter what language do you speak, you’ll love “The Other Half Of Happy” I am sure!

About The Author

Rebecca Balcárcel received the Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared in journals such as the North American Review. She is an associate professor of English at Tarrant County College. She lives in Bedford, Texas.