The word in the Write 31 days challenge is strong. I was trying to think of something I could do with this word and then I thought of this review book, The Other Half of Happy. Strength is something this family needed, and though it didn’t always seem apparent, it was something they possessed.
What I am Reviewing
middle school, fiction, prejudice, racism, death, family tension, Special needs, Latin America, Cross-cultural, Latino,
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.
The Details of The Other Half of Happy
I have to admit, I was surprised. Much of this book I thoroughly enjoyed, I really did. Good characters, I could see the struggles that Quijana had. Being a young teen, learning to hold to her preferences, struggling to understand parental concerns, and trying to be a good sister to a younger brother.
I didn’t expect the bullying she needed to endure over cross-cultural issues. This issue was a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting native language use (or lack thereof) to be a concern among Latino Americans.
The characters were well-developed. I feel like I could meet Quijana and her friends and know what to expect from them. Jayden and Zuri became real people in my mind, good people for Quijana to hang out with.
I loved the closeness between Quijana and her gramma. The attention of teachers who noticed struggles.
This middle school book was an easy read. The only struggle I was with the bits of Spanish, and some of the Latino names.
A good book. Enjoyed reading for the most part. There was a lot thrown into this book. Homosexuality, what I think is autism, cross-cultural issues. the death of a family member, and a girl coming to understand herself.
Family tension was a very solid part of this book. I saw strength in parenting, strength in Quijana holding to what is solid part of who she was despite familial pressure, and growing strength as she realized more was going on in the world then what she was going through herself. This story, in and of itself would have been enough. Watching her mature, even in small ways, was wonderful.
I disliked the need to throw a homosexual character into an already divisive book. Like seriously, what was the real need to do so? There was so much going on in The Other Half of Happy already, adding this extra element just seemed pointless.
The focus should have remained on Quijana and the cross-cultural issues she was already dealing with. Internal strength is a part of this book.