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Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Shame the Stars (edition 2016)

by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Author)

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404493,502 (3.88)None
"In the midst of racial conflict and at the edges of a war at the Texas-Mexico border in 1915, Joaquín and Dulceña attempt to maintain a secret romance in this reimagining of Romeo and Juliet"--
Title:Shame the Stars
Authors:Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Author)
Info:Tu Books (2016), 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall


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Eighteen-year-old Joaquin del Toro's future looks bright. With his older brother in the priesthood, he is set to inherit his family's Texas ranch. He s in love with Dulcena and she's in love with him. But it is 1915, and trouble has been brewing along the US-Mexico border. On one side, the Mexican Revolution is taking hold; on the other, Texas Rangers fight Tejano insurgents, and ordinary citizens are caught in the middle.
As tensions grow, Joaquin is torn away from Dulcena, whose father's critical reporting on the Rangers in the local newspaper has driven a wedge between their families. Joaquin s own father insists that the Rangers are their friends, and refuses to take sides in the conflict. But when their family ranch becomes a target, Joaquin must decide how he will stand up for what s right.
  Gmomaj | Nov 12, 2019 |
Guadalupe García McCall
Shame the Stars
Tu Books
Hardcover, 978-1-6201-4278-3, (also available as an e-book), 320 pgs., $19.95
September 15, 2016

Joaquín and Dulceña are teenagers in love. Joaquín is the privileged, sensitive, traditional son of a distinguished ranching family in South Texas, Tejanos who have owned Las Moras since 1775. Dulceña, daughter of the local printer, is a spirited, smart, modern, independent young woman who wants to be a journalist and travel the world. Due to a political falling-out between their parents, the childhood sweethearts keep their relationship on the down-low.

In 1915 the Mexican Revolution spills across the border and into the couple’s plans. Existing racial tensions, and abuses and vigilante actions of the Texas Rangers, are stoked by the Plan de San Diego and accusations of treason, sedition, and insurrection. When Joaquín’s father’s relationship (“It’s good to know where the snake likes to lay in the brush. It’s the only way to survive”) with Captain Munro of the Texas Rangers (“Munro has no friends, only allies and pawns”) is exposed for the sham it always was, Las Moras, lives, and freedom are threatened.

Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is fine YA historical fiction. Think West Side Story, think Romeo and Juliet, complete with quinceañera masquerade party and a balcony scene. Inspired by her son’s history lessons, McCall set out to learn a part of our history not frequently taught in Texas classrooms. The result is Shame the Stars, a way for the novelist to contribute to our understanding of our shared past, and, hopefully, informing a brighter future.

McCall affords her complex characters further development, especially Joaquín. The eighteen-year-old’s first-person narrative begins in the conservative, naïve voice of a child, but develops into the nuanced voice of an adult over the course of the novel as he discovers the world, including his parents, no longer fits childhood conceptions.

Joaquín fills his journal with the overwrought poetry of a teenager in love in historical times, as is appropriate. The dialogue sometimes seems stilted and formal, partly reflecting the era, and revolutionary jargon can seem melodramatic. In this example, as Munro’s company of Rangers are approaching the ranch, McCall evidences a gift for the lyrical: “Then, as the minutes ticked off, the devil grew bigger and bigger, gorging itself on dirt and debris, gaining momentum as it galloped toward us, until there was more than dust in its midst and there appeared before us a group of pale riders.”

Shame the Stars tackles big themes: justice (particularly the difference between the fickle goodwill of individuals versus the law and civil rights); issues of identity; factions and betrayal; the power of the written word and the vital importance of a free press. The action proceeds quickly and steadily, the plot developing organically but packing staggering plot twists. A couple of subplots involving land dispossession further illumine the period.

A beautifully designed volume, Shame the Stars is a treat for the eyes with poems from Joaquín’s journal and actual newspaper articles from the time. McCall provides a necessary cast of characters, along with additional reading recommendations, and sources for the articles reproduced as artwork in the book.

Dividing friends and families no less than the U.S. Civil War did, the struggle for civil rights in South Texas confronts Joaquín and Dulceña with the first adult decisions of their lives, as they decide, individually and together, who they want to be.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life. ( )
  TexasBookLover | Jul 3, 2017 |
Before Texas became a territory and then a state, it was part of Mexico. As happened when European immigrants took control of land occupied by its original inhabitants, the Anglo American colonists who settled in Tejas, Mexico in the early 1800’s decided they wanted the land upon which they had settled, and fought to get it from Mexico. Ultimately the land they conquered became the state of Texas. Just as Native Americans had their lands stolen from them, so too did the Mexicans who had originally lived and farmed their own lands in Tejas for generations.

“Shame the Stars” is set in 1915, and tells the story of Tejano families struggling to understand and survive brutalities inflicted upon them by the Texas Rangers (a group of “lawmen” who randomly killed and raped Mexican Americans, imprisoning them without trail, and stealing their land.)

Joaquín Del Toro and Dulceña Villa are teenagers in love during this tumultuous time in the fictitious city of Monteseco. Though suffering from the devastation brought upon them and others by the Rangers, they refuse to keep their heads bowed low in servitude. They, and many others, determine to make a difference for their people and stand for their rights. “Shame the Stars” is their story.

This book is marketed as a “rich reimagining of Romeo and Juliet,” but I feel this simplistic overview is a disservice to McCall. “Shame the Stars” is so much more than this, as the author’s rich and powerful narrative opens the eyes of her readers to an atrocious chapter in the history of the United States that had been a secret for many years. It is closer to the history of Segregation and the crimes committed by segregationists than it is to Romeo and Juliet.

The “Refusing to Forget” Project, started in 2013, created an exhibit of this time period called “Life and Death on the Border 1910-1920.” It was on view in Austin, Texas from Jan. 23-April 3, and was a visual complement to the events in the book.

I sincerely hope McCall’s excellently written and researched book will win an award of some type at the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards in January, as it deserves a place in every high school and public library. McCall is a previous winner of the Pura Belpré award, however, since it is intended for a much older audience, my fingers are crossed that it will receive a Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from YALSA.

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received a copy of this book from Lee & Low in exchange for an honest review.

Book review link: https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/shame-the-stars-guadalupe-ga... ( )
  sunshinealma | Sep 22, 2016 |
This historical fiction novel will teach you about a little known part of Texas history.

It’s 1915, and the Tejano people are being uprooted while the Mexican Revolution is going on across the south Texas border. The Tejano are the Mexicans who have lived and owned land in south Texas for generations; they are being pushed out by white people who want the land. The Tejanos are angry and feel slighted by the white people, so they fight back. The Mexican Revolutionaries are crossing the border, contributing to the dangerous and violent atmosphere. In response the Texas Rangers follow no rules and use violence as they see fit. They hang people without trial among other atrocities. Most citizens are caught in the middle, afraid to go out. Women are not safe with the Rangers or the Revolutionaries. It’s a dangerous atmosphere where the “good” guys are hard to identify.

In the middle of this historic atmosphere is Joaquin and Dulcena. Joaquin will inherit the family ranch; his family tries to befriend the lead Ranger and go about their business. Dulcena’s family owns the paper and print what’s going on, which the Rangers don’t always like, making this dangerous. The families argue over these stories--are they necessary to show the truth or incendiary to create more violence--breaking the families apart. Joaquin and Dulcena now have to meet in secret without inadvertently joining the violence. As the violence escalates, both families end up in the middle.

The author uses primary sources throughout, so the facts and events are all true to what really happened. There are also poems used to describe the feelings of the Tejano. The characters and their plot, however, are fiction. Definitely read the author’s notes at the end of the novel. As a Texas, this novel represents an important part of our history. ( )
  acargile | Jul 25, 2016 |
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"In the midst of racial conflict and at the edges of a war at the Texas-Mexico border in 1915, Joaquín and Dulceña attempt to maintain a secret romance in this reimagining of Romeo and Juliet"--

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