In the early 1900s in Texas, the Mexican Revolution crosses the border, dividing the brown-skinned gente (people) from the white authority of the Texas Rangers.
Eighteen-year-olds Joaquín del Toro and Dulceña Villa love each other; however, after their families fall out, they must resort to keeping their relationship a secret. The del Toros own a large estate with cattle and farmland and are friendly with Capt. Munro, the local leader of the Texas Rangers. The Villas own the print shop and are publishers of El Sureño, the local periodical considered seditious by the town’s authorities. Told from Joaquín’s point of view, the novel spans three and a half years of corrupt agendas, power struggles, violence, racism, and loss. Scattered throughout are well-placed, nonitalicized Spanish words and phrases, both archival and fictional newspaper clippings, letters exchanged between hotheaded Joaquín and no-nonsense Dulceña, and Joaquín’s poetry-filled journal entries, personalizing and adding context to the overall political conflict. Far beyond a love story, the novel successfully tackles all kinds of hardship, including sexual violence and lynching; the historical conflict between the Rangers and the Tejanos feels uncannily contemporary. Women are the hidden heroes, because they must be, the hearts of both the revolution and the novel.
Pura Belpré winner McCall delivers an ambitious, sardonically relevant historical novel—a must-read, complex twist on a political Shakespearean tragedy. (cast of characters, author’s note, further reading, sources, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)