Books

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.
jlg_seal A Junior Library Guild selection

Buy at Barnes & Noble , Indiebound, Amazon.
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. This book had relatable moments for me that I’ve never read about before, like feeling left out because your cousins can smoothly transition between languages while you’re stuck in just one and having your parents use Spanish when they don’t want you to understand. I’ve never been able to see myself in a character like this before.”
  • 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.”

 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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