The Other Half of Happy stars Quijana, a half-Latina, half-Anglo seventh grader who does not speak Spanish, does not like Don Quixote, and is definitely not going to Guatemala for winter break! Join Quijana as she navigates life in the Guatemalan-American hyphen and discovers her missing half. Two-minute video book talk here. 🙂
jlg_seal A Junior Library Guild selection

Purchase at Barnes & Noble , Indiebound, Amazon.
Purchase Audiobook at Libro.fmSoundCloud, Audible, Rakuten Kobo.

On the web

  • Goodreads, where you can mark Want to Read, give stars, or review The Other Half of Happy .
  • The cover reveal on 100 Scope Notes — includes a bit about the background of the book!
  • Author interview on The Book Goat
  • School Library Journal logoSchool Library Journal’s starred review : “This is a title that will remain relevant long past its publication date. A must-have for all library collections.”
  • Latinas Leyendo — book review and author interview: “one of the best and most compassionate depictions of autism I have ever read in fiction.”
  • Varietats blog book review: “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!”
  • Gabi’s Books Reviews: “This was the first time I really got to see myself on the page.”
  • Metamorphoreader: “It’s amazing reading a book where the family isn’t broken or what triggers the plot. . . . The writing was easy to read, it flowed like water and that made me devour the book in just a couple days . . .  it sucks your attention and doesn’t let go.”
  • The Collegian, newspaper of Tarrant County College, interview and article  (text)
  • Latinx In Kid Lit interview with Rebecca (text)
  • Latinx in Kid Lit review of THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY: ” Balcárcel combines the personal with the universal into a story that is likely to be felt deeply by preteens far beyond the Latinx community.”
  • Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup book review: “This is a fantastic story about growing up, accepting parts of your roots, and coming to terms with cultural differences. This is a great book for readers who love a good family-centered narrative.”
  • The Children’s Book Review: “This one is my latest reads and its language is pure poetry. Quijana is one-half Guatemalan, one-half American and lately she’s feeling that her whole world is made up of halves. Balcárcel has expertly depicted what it’s like living between two cultures and growing up inside them both. It’s so riveting it will speak to anyone who has ever made the mistake in believing that they didn’t belong somewhere. Balcárcel shows how we all belong in this world. It’s a stunning debut and I can’t wait for more from this author.”

 Quijana’s journey to understand herself better and how she fits between two cultures is authentic and relatable to readers of all backgrounds, and her language struggles will particularly hit home for some. With Rebecca Balcárcel’s lyrical language, Quijana’s voice feels both fresh and familiar. A beautiful coming of age story.” —Hena Khan, author of Amina’s Voice

Palabras photo

Along with pieces called “breathtaking” by Naomi Shihab Nye, these poems twirl their skirts as they explore bi-cultural identity, growing up, a young mother’s struggles, and the limits of language. Half Latina and half Anglo, the speaker worries about “black-topped boys with butterscotch skin” who whistle at her, but loves how flowers “explode into curls of crepe.”

Paperback published by Pecan Grove Press, 2009.

E-version available as free download here AND it includes a Teacher’s Guide at the back: Palabras in Each Fist

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