Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice (Hardcover)

Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice By Anna Lapera Cover Image

Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice (Hardcover)


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For fans of Donna Barba Higuera's Lupe Wong Won't Dance and Aida Salazar's The Moon Within, comes Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice – a contemporary middle grade novel full of spunk and activist heart.

Life sucks when you're twelve. You're not a little kid, but you're also not an adult, and all the grown-ups in your life talk about your body the minute it starts getting a shape. And what sucks even more than being a Chinese-Filipino-American-Guatemalan who can't speak any ancestral language well? When almost every other girl in school has already gotten her period except for you and your two besties.

Manuela “Mani” Semilla wants two things: To get her period, and to thwart her mom's plan of taking her to Guatemala on her thirteenth birthday. If her mom's always going on about how dangerous it is in Guatemala, and how much she sacrificed to come to this country, then why should Mani even want to visit?

But one day, up in the attic, she finds secret letters between her mom and her Tía Beatriz, who, according to family lore, died in a bus crash before Mani was born. But the letters reveal a different story. Why did her family really leave Guatemala? What will Mani learn about herself along the way? And how can the letters help her to stand up against the culture of harassment at her own school?


“Anna Lapera expertly voices a young girl’s middle school trials, but with a voice so unique and heartfelt you will be cringing one moment and cheering the next. She weaves a distinctive story filled with humor, family heartache, and secrets while a young girl releases the fear of her voice and grasps its power.”
—Newbery Medalist Donna Barba Higuera 

Anna Lapera teaches middle school by day and writes stories about girls stepping into their power in the early hours of the morning. She is a member of Las Musas, a 2022 Macondista and Kweli Journal mentee, and has received support from Tin House, Kweli and SCBWI. When she’s not writing, you can find her visiting trails and coffee shops in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she lives with her family. Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice is her debut novel, and she’s currently working on a historical fiction young adult novel set during Guatemala’s civil war, as well as a short story collection for the grown folks. You can find her online at
Author Residence: Silver Spring, MD
Product Details ISBN: 9781646143719
ISBN-10: 164614371X
Publisher: Levine Querido
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English
[STAR] “With strong writing, frank conversations about periods, anatomy, and bodily autonomy, plus dynamic characters, this solidly upper middle grade/lower YA story will empower readers, affirm their own middle school experiences, and show that people should be held accountable for the many daily offenses girls and women are subjected to. VERDICT A powerful look at collective action that shows when we raise our voices together, we don’t just make noise—we sing. Not to be missed.” – School Library Journal (starred)

“A poignant, feminist coming-of-age story.”— Kirkus

“Using perceptive prose, debut author Lapera approaches Guatemala’s fraught history with care and respect, and lovingly spotlights the tension felt in the relationship between a protective mother and the daughter who seeks independence from her.” – Publishers Weekly