Review & Giveaway: The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel

THE OTHER HALF
OF HAPPY
by

 

Rebecca Balcárcel
 
Contemporary / Middle Grade / Multi-cultural Family
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 332

Scroll down for giveaway!
Quijana is a girl in pieces. 
 
One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage. 
 
One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. 
 
One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother. 
 
In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. 
 
This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.
PRAISE FOR THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY:
 
“Seriously, I have never felt so seen in a book.” —Sophia Jimenez of @LatinxinPub
 

“Balcárcel’s well-rounded characters, complex friendships, and nuanced family dynamics will resonate with many readers. This is a title that will remain relevant long past its publication date. A must-have for all library collections.” — School Library Journal starred review

“With poetic, flowing prose that sometimes feels more like a song and characters so convincing that they seem real, Balcárcel’s stunning debut depicts the struggles of being raised with two cultures and the challenges of not being “authentic” enough—in this case, “not Guatemalan enough” or “not American enough.” A lovely, moving, and realistic view of the struggles and insecurities—as well as the beauty—that comes from being bicultural.” — Booklist starred review

“One of the best and most compassionate depictions of autism I have ever read in fiction.” — Latinas Leyendo

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Review

The Other Half of Happy has a cover that is very pleasing to the eye. The colors are happy and the simple illustrations perfectly represent various happenings and lessons that occur in the story. Balcarcel does a very convincing job of writing from the first person perspective of a 12 year old girl who struggles with finding out who she really is and where she fits in this world.

As a second generation American, I could relate to the challenges Quijana faced at school and at home. At school, I was sometimes treated like an outsider when I would share bits of my home life with my peers. But at home, I felt like I was too American and couldn’t be the perfect daughter to my immigrant parents. Quijana’s father is Guatemalan and her mother is an unspecified Anglo-American, but they converse with each other in Spanish often. Quijana wasn’t brought up speaking Spanish and feels frustrated when her father suddenly starts pushing the language on her. I know that feeling all too well.

If I could sum this book up in one word, I would probably go with “inclusivity”. I was pretty amazed at the different ways that the author accomplishes that theme over different interpersonal relationships. When I count the different scenarios that play out, it sounds like overkill; but it all works really well in this story and does not feel contrived at all.

I have to say that my favorite part of this book is the index at the back. The author provides page numbers for Quijana’s maternal grandmother’s wise words (the woman is like an oracle!), gives us the full version of projects that are mentioned briefly in the story, and explains other interesting things referenced in the book. Balcarcel built a wonderful world and made sure we had all the answers to the questions that developed in the back of our minds.

I highly recommend this book for everyone, but especially to children who could use a window into a life that may be very different from their own or perhaps similar. Either way, I think they will find a compelling story that teaches great life lessons.

Rebecca is a bi-cultural Latina who loves her autistic sons, her kitty, and serving the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars, where she was awarded the Jane Kenton Poetry Prize. THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY is her debut novel.

 
WEBSITE  ⬞    INSTAGRAM  ⬞   FACEBOOK
 

 

————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS EACH RECEIVE:
SIGNED COPY OF THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY 
BOOKMARK & STICKER!
NOVEMBER 5-15, 2019
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
11/5/19
Author Video
11/5/19
BONUS Post
11/6/19
Review
11/7/19
Excerpt
11/8/19
Review
11/9/19
Notable Quotable
11/10/19
Guest Post
11/11/19
Review
11/12/19
Scrapbook Page
11/13/19
Review
11/14/19
Review

 

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