Shine On, Luz Véliz!

Injured soccer star Luz is having a hard enough time reframing her identity as a computer coder and robotics clubber, but when her father reveals a thirtee-year-old surprise from his native Guatemala, she learns what it means to truly start over — by first opening her heart.

 “I loved every single page of this book!” Raúl the Third


Book Talk for SHINE ON, LUZ VÉLIZ!
Go behind the scenes with Mr. Schu’s cover reveal!

Best of 2022 Lists

School Library Journal
Best Middle Grade Books of 2022

Powell’s City of Books
Best Kids’ and Young Adult Books of 2022


Winner, grades 6-8 Simons Laufer Mathematical Sciences Institute, which recognizes outstanding fiction and literary nonfiction for youth

The Rise Booklist is compiled by ALA’s Feminist Task Force. They named 16 books whose characters “defy stereotypes and celebrate girls.” 

Winner, Deirdre Siobhan Flynn-Bass Award for Best Middle Grade Book from Texas Institute of Letters

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators named 5 finalists in celebration of the best of children’s literature in 2022

South Carolina Children’s Book Award Nominee 2023-2024
(1 of 20 MG books selected to be voted on by readers)


“I love Luz! Shine On, Luz Véliz is a beautiful story about family, belonging, and identity. Chock-full of Rebecca Balcárcel’s signature lyricism and heart, this is a warm, touching, and honest book that young readers are going to absolutely love.” Jasmine Warga, New York Times bestselling author of Newbery Honoree Other Words For Home

“I loved this uplifting story of soccer, STEM, and spirited sisters so much that I wanted to hug the book when I finished. If you have ever believed in the power of second chances, Luz Véliz will light up your heart.” Christina Soontornvat, author of Newberry Honors books, A Wish in the Dark and All Thirteen

“Luz shines a light on life’s many possibilities in this story about reinvention, robotics, and finding new passions. I loved every single page of this book!” Raúl the Third, Pura Belpré Award winning illustrator of the Vamos! and Lowriders series

Shine On Luz Véliz is all about finding human connection in the unlikeliest of places. Readers will love watching Luz navigate the ups and downs of a life that’s been turned on its head–new friends, new family, and a new life’s passion–all while learning a bit of coding in the process. A charming, engaging read with a techy twist.“ Amiee Lucido, author of Emmy in the Key of Code

“An uplifting and powerful story about family and self-discovery.” Stacy McAnulty, author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl 


Kirkus Reviews: “The plot is absorbing and skillfully paced, laced with insight and warmth as Luz learns to embrace both her new sister and her new sense of self. Inspiring, smart, and beautifully written.” (starred review)

School Library Journal: “”A must-have for middle school collections; fans of Jessica Kim’s Stand Up, Yumi Chung and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk will love this coming-of-age novel.” (starred review)

The Horn Book: “Balcárcel deftly interlaces many themes, including identity (both cultural and personal), girls in STEM, immigration, and family trauma. The well-drawn characters are realistically flawed . . . Effective pacing keeps readers invested in Luz’s family’s trials and tribulations from beginning to end.”

Bookslist: “Full of family drama and efforts to find oneself, this tale brims with hope as Luz learns to open her heart, connect with her heritage, accept change, and ponder what the future might hold. A lovely and touching coming-of-age story.” – Aurora Dominguez

Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books: “Each girl’s motivation and emotional journey is fully credible, and the emerging backstory of Solana’s flight from Guatemala is wrenching.” (R for recommended)

Reading Middle Grade (Afoma): “a riveting, heartwarming book about rediscovering your identity, coding, family, and languages. I adored the storytelling in this beautiful story. Rebecca Balcarcel has outdone herself by creating a relatable, strong-willed protagonist trying to find herself after a major life disruption. I loved the Latino culture, Luz and Solana’s relationship, and all the coding with Mr. Mac! Definitely recommend!”

Pawprints in the Ink : “Luz and her family are unforgettable, and the way Balcárcel expertly weaves together multiple plot lines and brings them all together is beautiful. These characters are relatable and realistic; they’re the kinds of characters you wish were real, just so you could be friends with them.”


YAYOMG!: “We adored Luz and we just know she’s going to become one of your new fictional favs. Her struggles are oh-so-relatable and the way she handles all the major life changes that are thrown at her is nothing less than fierce. But don’t take our word for it – Shine On Luz Véliz author Rebecca Balcárcel is here to share all the reasons she thinks Luz is totally fierce!”