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18 October 2008 @ 10:52 am
the thing about Latino literature, IMHO  
On the plane ride from Chicago to Houston I read the newest book by Alan Sitomer, THE SECRET STORY OF SONIA RODRIQUEZ (Hyperion, 2008).

Sonia might just be the first in her family to graduate high school. That is, if she can help her mother during her final stages of pregnancy, deal with her "drunkle" and her superstitious aunt and her less-than-helpful brothers. Sonia must miss many days of classes to fill the gap at home. She is trying her hardest to complete her senior year, but things are becoming so overwhelming. Her mother and aunt decide Sonia should spend some time with her abuelita in Mexico. It is there that Sonia learns much more about determination in the face of overwhelming obstacles that she ever thought she would.

Being the first is something I know a little bit about. First child, first granddaughter, first to complete college and advanced degrees. Like Sonia, I have had to sometimes fight for the time to do what some take for granted. I know this is true for so many of my own students as well. Many of the people who receive their MLS degrees are the firsts as well. I think Sitomer is hitting an important piece here for many readers, perhaps some of them reluctant readers, too. I identified with Sonia and her struggles even though we are from different ethnic backgrounds. I suspect that the residents of the back bedroom will identify with her for different reasons altogether.

My only concern is what I perceived and have had affirmed by my students in the Rio Grande Valley here in Texas. Books with Latino characters from other parts of the country, especially California, tend not to resonate as real for their students. Students here relate to Benjamin Saenz, David Rice, Renee Saldana, Viola Canales, and others more so than other writers of literature for Hispanics. I will be curious to see how this book does with Texas students. I am hopeful that this concept of being the first is one that will translate across borders.
Current Location: home and in bed
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Faerlyn: draft pintofaerlyn_darkelf on October 18th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
you read like lightning!
are you reading these as books or on the kindle?
professornanaprofessornana on October 18th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
all of these are either ARCs or books. I have a new one on the Kindle for later this coming week.

(Anonymous) on April 22nd, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Hispanic Literature
I teach 10th grade English in a school that is 44% Hispanic. We are trying to give our reading selections a facelift. I am looking for books my students can relate to, but that will also be challenging. Would you suggest some possibilities? (I also have to fight the battle that young adult literature will never be as great to teach with as classics.) Thank you!
professornanaprofessornana on April 24th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Hispanic Literature
I think recent Pura Belore winners might be the ticket: THE SURRENDER TREE by Margarita Engle comes to mind immediately. It is a novel in verse about Cuba's struggle for independence. There are also wonderful selections by Jimenez and PARROT IN THE OVEN: MI VIDA which I used in my YA lit class for some time.