Balcárcel, Rebecca. Other Half of Happy, The. Fiction. Chronicle, 08/2019. 317[+7]pp. $16.99. 978-1-4521-6998-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8.
Rich and original prose tells the story of Quijana, a half-white, half-Guatemalan seventh grader who is frightened that the Guatemalan side of her family will call her a “failed Latina” if they find out she doesn’t speak Spanish. In addition, she also must deal with her first crush, her Grandma’s illness, and her little brother’s increasing distance from the world. Intertextual references to Don Quixote, after whom Quijana is named, provide a foil to her struggles with following her heart while navigating the intricacies of growing up. Quijana is a lovable protagonist whose observations are laced with honesty and poeticism. This engrossing book will delight readers from the middle grades and up, as it deftly and delicately explores identity, family, tragedy, crushes, and friendship. This story will be especially relatable to those of mixed heritage, third culture kids (those who have grown up within a culture different from their parents), and to everyone who has ever been a middle schooler.
Louise Yu, Oakland Public Library