Excerpt: Summer of the Mariposas
From Summer of the Mariposas,
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
LA ESTRELLA: “La guía de los marineros.”
THE STAR: “The guide of sailors.”
I walked alone along the riverbank. In the dawning light, it shimmered with the hues of day fighting away the shadows of night, while the multitude of trees and shrubbery that grew for miles and miles along the riverbank still shrouded the land in shadow. Suddenly, to the left of me, about ten yards southeast along the river beyond the twisted path my sisters and I had worn into the thicket, two small figures ran past me in and out of the dusty brush right up to the river’s edge. They ran along the bank, skirting it so closely that pebbles flew off their footsteps and bounced down into the water. Their faces were indistinguishable in the dark and their white outfits were muted by the lack of sunlight, but I could see that they were little boys running away from something—or someone.
It didn’t take very long to see who they were running from. Behind them, a woman in a pale dress came running, screaming at the boys, begging them to stop. Her long black hair whipped behind her as she fought through the brush. It was clear to me she was worried—frantic, even—that they might fall into the river.
“Hay mis hijos!” she screamed as she side-stepped ruts and rocks with her small bare feet.
The short trees tore at her immaculate white dress, but she didn’t care. She pulled herself free of any tree limbs that clawed at her and kept chasing after her children, never losing sight of them.
“Hey,” I screamed after the children. They didn’t turn to look at me or acknowledge me in any way. They were getting dangerously close to a cliff at the edge of the river. I left the security of our path and darted after them. They still ran parallel to the waters of the Rio Grande, much too close to the current that roared furiously below. The waters here were dark and angry, almost violent—nothing like our friendly swimming hole. I sped up, afraid they might lose their footing.
Too late, I screamed for them to get away from the edge. In a second, they were falling, both of them, one behind the other. Into the water they went, making loud splashes as they fought to stay afloat. Without thinking, I scrambled up to the edge and jumped in after them.
About Summer of the Mariposas and its Author
Summer of the Mariposas, was released by
Tu Books in October 2012. In this unique Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, Odilia Garza and her four younger sisters find a dead man’s body in their swimming hole and embark on a risky journey to return him to his family in Mexico. Their journey back home to Texas, however, is fraught with even more danger, as they encounter magical beings and must learn to trust themselves and each other. Kirkus Reviews says, “Originality and vibrancy shine through to make [this story] a worthwhile read.”
McCall’s debut book for young adults, Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low Books, 2011), won the American Library Association’s 2012 Pura Belpré Award and was a William C. Morris YA Debut Award Honor Book. It was also included on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list and was an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalist from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents.
McCall, who teaches English and Language Arts at a junior high school, lives in San Antonio with her family.