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A beautiful coming-of-age story for fans of Front Desk and Merci Suárez Changes Gears, this book celebrates identity, language, heritage, family, and the determination to follow one's own inner light.
Have you ever been the best at something . . . only to lose it all?
Luz Véliz is a soccer star—or rather, she was a soccer star. With her serious knee injury, it's unlikely she'll be back on the field anytime soon. But without soccer, who is she? Even her dad treats her differently now—like he doesn't know her or, worse, like he doesn't even like her. When Luz discovers she has a knack for coding, it feels like a lifeline to a better self. If she can just ace the May Showcase, she'll not only skip a level in her coding courses and impress Ms. Freeman and intriguing, brilliant Trevor—she'll have her parents cheering her on from the sidelines, just the way she likes it.
But something—someone—is about to enter the Vélizes' life. And when Solana arrives, nothing will be the same, ever again.
Unforgettable characters, family drama, and dauntless determination illuminate Luz's journey as she summons her inner strength and learns to accept others and embrace the enduring connection of family. Through it all, Luz's light is a constant—a guide for others, a path forward through the dark, and an ineffable celebration of her own eternal self.
This is the second novel by Pure Belpré Honor winner Rebecca Balcárcel!
FAST-PACED FAMILY DRAMA: Fast-paced, deeply felt, and with all the high highs and low lows of adolescence, this story is downright fun—a page-turner even while it's dealing with serious issues.
WHO AM I? This book grapples with a topic so many young people deal with daily: one's relationship to heritage and culture. Luz confronts her ties to her home country, the place of her father's birth, and her family itself in a thoughtful, emotional journey filled with humor, urgency, and grace.
CODING IS COOL!: Coding is a language many kids enjoy learning and are encouraged to master. The way this book frames coding and computer programming as an opportunity for communication, bonding, and building fun, practical skills will speak loudly to kids already interested in the field while also resonating with those who aren't.
AN ALL-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: This is an important book for its thought-provoking, empathetic look at immigration in the United States and at how the threat of deportation informs the experiences of some of our country's most vulnerable communities. With lyrical prose, deeply felt characters, and a relatable story, Shine On, Luz V&eacaute;liz! adds substantively to our fraught discussion about immigration and opens it to young readers.
AUTHOR ON THE RISE: Rebecca Balcárcel won the Pura Belpré Author Honor, which recognizes literature for children or youth that best portrays the Latino cultural experience, for her first book, The Other Half of Happy. She is a beloved presence in the children's literature community and is making her mark as a writer to watch.
• Kids who love reading about family and friend drama
• Kids who love coding
• Fans of Meg Medina, Rebecca Stead, and Kelly Yang
About the Author
Rebecca Balcárcel took her MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College's Writing Seminars and received their Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. The Other Half of Happy won the Pura Belpré Author Honor, which recognizes literature for children or youth that best portrays the Latinx cultural experience. Her poems and essays have appeared in journals such as Third Coast and North American Review, and her book of poems is titled Palabras In Each Fist. She currently serves the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English and lives in Belford, Texas. Find her on YouTube as the SixMinuteScholar.
“Balcárcel (Belpré honoree for The Other Half of Happy) deftly interlaces many themes, including identity (both cultural and personal), girls in STEM, immigration, and family trauma. The well-drawn characters are realistically flawed . . . Effective pacing keeps readers invested in Luz’s family’s trials and tribulations from beginning to end.” —The Horn Book Magazine
“I wanted to hug this book when I finished. If you have ever believed in the power of second chances, Luz Véliz will light up your heart.” —Christina Soontornvat, Newbery Honor–winning author of A Wish in the Dark
“Watching Luz Véliz reinvent herself in this lyrical page-turner—from soccer star to computer coder, from only child to hermana—is an absolute treat. Luz not only learns to shine, but to cast her brilliant light far and wide. She left a warm glow in my heart long after I finished reading.” —Marcy Campbell, renowned author of Rule of Threes
“An uplifting and powerful story about family and self-discovery.” —Stacy McAnulty, author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
“Shine On, Luz Véliz! is all about finding human connection in the unlikeliest of places. Readers will love watching Luz navigate the ups and downs of a life that’s been turned on its head—new friends, new family, and a new life’s passion—all while learning a bit of coding in the process. A charming, engaging read with a techy twist.” —Aimee Lucido, acclaimed author of Emmy in the Key of Code
“Full of family drama and efforts to find oneself, this tale brims with hope as Luz learns to open her heart, connect with her heritage, accept change, and ponder what the future might hold. A lovely and touching coming-of-age story.”—Booklist
“Each girl’s motivation and emotional journey is fully credible, and the emerging backstory of Solana’s flight from Guatemala is wrenching. Balcárcel releases a confetti storm of feel-good subplot resolutions, but they do not detract from the core dynamic of a good family becoming even better as it widens its embrace. An author’s note on the inspiration for Solana’s story is included.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A great novel about the struggles of friendship and family, and that what makes a person who they are is more than what other people think of them… A must-have for middle school collections; fans of Jessica Kim’s Stand Up, Yumi Chung and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk will love this coming-of-age novel.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Watching Luz Véliz reinvent herself in this lyrical page-turner—from soccer star to computer coder, from only child to hermana—is an absolute treat. Luz not only learns to shine, but to cast her brilliant light far and wide. She left a warm glow in my heart long after I finished reading.”—Marcy Campbell, acclaimed author of Rule of Threes
“[A]bsorbing and skillfully paced, laced with insight and warmth . . . [Shine On, Luz Véliz! is] inspiring, smart, and beautifully written.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review