Navigating eighth grade is hard enough without having to learn a new language.
Debut author De Jesús allows readers a glimpse into her childhood as she shares the memories and lessons learned following her family’s move from Puerto Rico to the United States’ mainland. Sometimes feeling like a stranger in her own country, relocating made it hard for De Jesús’ mother to adjust. However, De Jesús knew that this time, unlike the case with a previous short stay, they wouldn’t return to Puerto Rico soon because the family had bought one-way tickets, and her grandmother back home had rented out their house and sold all their belongings. It is through a different surprise at the end of each chapter that De Jesús shares lessons learned through her experiences. These glimpses into her life highlight the struggles and culture shock that many Puerto Ricans face when moving within their own country, expressed through descriptions of the challenges of learning to spell in English, the realization that teachers were not respected, and even the feeling of being overdressed for a school dance. Noting that “surprises can be wonderful or unfortunate,” De Jesús offers honest, emotional, insightful, and sometimes-distressful vignettes in small, digestible chapters. She presents the Spanish version of the text first in the volume instead of having the Spanish and English side by side. The translation by Kanellos stays true to the original.
Short, yet packing a punch. (Memoir. 12-18)