cover image Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Donna Barba Higuera. Levine Querido, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-64614-003-9

Higuera updates an age-old American PE tradition with thoroughly modern sensibilities in this earnest, comedic novel, which follows outspoken half-Chinese, half-Mexican seventh-grader Guadalupe “Lupe” Wong and her crusade to cancel square dancing. If 12-year-old ace pitcher Lupe gets all As this year, her uncle Hector, who works for the Seattle Mariners, has promised to secure a meetup with fellow “Chinacan” pitcher Fu Li Hernandez, “the first Asian/Latino pitcher in the major leagues.” Lupe’s hero happens to remind her of her dad, who died almost two years ago—which is why, besides becoming the “first woman pitcher in the majors,” she doesn’t “think [she’s] ever wanted something so bad.” But PE throws a killer changeup in the form of a square-dancing unit, and Lupe’s best subject will quickly become her worst if she can’t figure out how to rid Issaquah Middle School of it. The spring also brings shifting friendships, though, and when Lupe quarrels with one best friend—helicopter-parented Andy Washington, who is Black—and her other best friend—pragmatic, kind Niles Foster, who is on the autism spectrum—begins making new friends, Lupe must reflect on her priorities and relationships. Inclusive and emotionally resonant, Higuera’s debut is a home run, with a plot as multifaceted and compelling as her characters, whose nuanced voices and varied range of interests ring wholly true. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Allison Remcheck, Stimola Literary Studio. (Sept.) [/em]