Renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Quiñones-Hinojosa’s life story is as unlikely as it is inspiring.
Born into a Mexican family perpetually teetering on the edge of poverty, the author’s origins were anything but auspicious. Intelligence, imagination and a grandfather who believed that “hard work, honesty, and a good heart”—along with a healthy dose of charm and charisma—allowed Quiñones-Hinojosa to see beyond the difficult realities that defined his life. Economic circumstances forced his family to become migrant farmworkers for one summer in California; but for the author, going north “had a feeling of destiny” about it. Risking “injury, incarceration and even death,” he eventually returned to the U.S. on his own by jumping the border fence between Mexicali and Calexico. To survive, Quiñones-Hinojosa held a variety of menial jobs from tomato picker to fish-lard scraper to stockyard welder. Education saved him and illuminated his path: After earning his associate’s degree, he won a scholarship to UC-Berkeley, where he decided on a career in medicine. A fellowship to Harvard Medical School allowed him to pursue his dream and define himself still further as a brain surgeon and researcher. “From my earliest childhood, I had used my hands for everything from pumping gas to fixing car engines,” he writes. “[N]ow I could use [them]…to help patients heal.” The personal sacrifices that the author has been forced to make along the way prevents this story of professional success from reading like a fairy tale.
A passionate hymn to the power of the American Dream.