For the sports-minded young people in your life, hand them this book. For the activist young people in your life, hand them this book. For the square-dancing young people in your life … wait … what?
Did you have a square dancing unit in your phy ed class? Lupe Wong does and, for various reasons, she’s determined that she won’t take part. In fact, she wants to make sure her school no longer offers square dancing, even though her parents remember it as a part of their history. It’s always been done.
Lupe Wong is determined to be the first female Major League Baseball pitcher. She works hard at it. Her father, who passed away, coaches her from beyond. Her uncle offers to introduce Lupe to her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her—but she must get an A in every class. Even square dancing.
That tension kept me turning the page. This book is textured and layered. The characters are important to the story, well integrated, and Lupe is smart but she has a lot to learn. She grows both emotionally and compassionately by the story’s satisfying conclusion.
Through research, trying to avoid square dancing, Lupe discovers the song to which they’re dancing has a culturally dark history … and she insists that the principal end the tradition of square dancing once this is recognized. Will the principal pay attention? Will Lupe’s friends understand her single-minded determination?
Lupe Wong is funny and beguiling and frustrating and sometimes quixotic. The author, Donna Barba Higuera, has created a character who rightfully stands beside Millicent Min, Ramona Quimby, Hermione Granger, Zoe Washington, Gilly Hopkins, and Mia Tang.
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance
written by Donna Barba Higuera