ya and middle grade book reviews
Rebecca Balcarcel: Middle Grade Novelist and Poet

Rebecca Balcarcel: Award-Winning Middle Grade Novelist and Poet

Rebecca Balcarcel, award-winning middle grade novelist and poet takes us into her life through her work. Half Guatemalan, she believes in the importance of authenticity in writing. Her characters struggle with identity issues along with autism, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and even death. She believes that middle graders are ready to hear the truth and read about their own experiences, both the joyful and the challenging. She, as do I, believes that kids being able to read about these issues can allow them to live happier and healthier lives.


In her first middle grade novel, The Other Side of Happy, pre-teen Quijana, half Guatemalan, half Anglo struggles with some of the same issues that Rebecca has struggled with throughout her life. Although Quijana’s parents always stressed the importance of American culture, they all of the sudden want her to embrace her Guatemalan side and even go as far as planning a trip to Guatemala which is not embraced by Quijana. Quijana, on top of coping with identity issues, has to cope with her brother’s autism and her grandmother’s illness.

In Shine on Luz, preteen Luz, goes from being a soccer star and the apple of her Guatemalan father’s eye to being insecure about where she stands in the world. She stumbles upon robotics and a half sister who joins the family from Guatemala. The two sisters learn the importance of family and Luz learns some self-acceptance.

Rebecca started as a poet and she reads from her book of published poetry in the interview.

Shine on Luz Valiz: rebecca balcarcel: children's novelist and poet

You can find the podcast at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1012396

You can find the YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfe1GQm1jOHRmvie-0aRgjA


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