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. 🙂 Pura Belpré Honor Book acceptance speech here (3 min.)

JuniorLibraryGuild Selection, SpiritOfTexas List, TxInstituteOfLetters Best Middle Grade Book, Américas Award Honor Book, ALA Notable Book, Pura Belpré Honor Book

Booklist, starred review School Library Journal, starred review

2019 Kansas NEA Reading Circle Commission: listed as Recommended
2020 Capitol Choices List of Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
2020 Rhode Island Latino Books Month Award Nominee
2020 Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year List
2020 Writer’s League of Texas MG/YA Book Award Finalist; the award “recognizes outstanding books published by Texas authors in 2019”
2021 Battle of the Books selection, Virginia Beach Public Library

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

Interviews, Reviews, Lists

 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

Enjoy four poems from a reading at Del Mar College in 2006. Now on YouTube here.

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