ISLAND OF BONES by Joy Castro

ISLAND OF BONES

Essays

KIRKUS REVIEW

Castro (English and Ethnic Studies/Univ. of Nebraska; Hell or High Water, 2012, etc.) ponders her troubled adolescence and who she is today.

Adopted and raised by a Cuban American family of Jehovah's Witnesses, the author reflects on her search for her true identity. As a child, she was required to proselytize for the church and was subjected to starvation and sexual abuse by her stepfather, conditions she knew were wrong. However, she was "raised to be seen and not heard,” and so Castro learned to put her head down and endure. "Forbidden to go to college," she ran away at the age of 14 to live with her adoptive father. Despite becoming a single mother at 20, she continued her education, earned a doctorate, and later, tenure at Wabash College. Regardless of her achievements, Castro continued to search for understanding and identity through her teaching, her writing, her reading of Latino literature, and the raising of her son. As an adoptee, she had always believed her biological mother was a Latina and assumed the role of a Latina herself, only to have this myth crushed at 26 when she met her mother and found out her true ethnic background. "In one sudden yank of the rug,” she writes, “I felt my family and identity severed from me. I didn't know where to stand." Throughout her life, Castro has had to redefine her identity, both to herself and to others. These powerful transformations form the backbone of this slim volume of visceral pieces.

Potent, emotional essays that speak to the relatable experience of rising above a harrowing childhood.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8032-7142-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Bison/Univ. of Nebraska
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2012




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