In her memoir debut, Missler takes readers on a leisurely stroll through her life as a first-generation Mexican-American.
Missler relays the most important moments of her life with grace, jumping from one year to the next, then back again, but always with the same easy, self-aware presence. Her material—everything from her first crush to a series of events that left her hitching a ride in the darkness of the giant, deserted King Ranch—isn’t much more earthshaking than the events that shape any young person’s life. When things get tense, she’s more prone to understatement than dramatics, as shown by her assessment of the time when bandits tried to force her car off the road during a family road trip to Teotihuacán: “You know, that was a real eye-opener for me.” Missler wasn’t brought up as being different; instead, she and her four siblings were taught to be themselves, living confidently and without apologies in the richness of two blended cultures in Texas. Sometimes, the results of their confidence can be rather amusing, at least in the retelling: For instance, Missler’s first-grade teacher singled her out for criticism because she colored an elephant pink instead of gray; her parents backed her decision to color another elephant the same way, and suddenly, Missler says, the teacher “had a first grade rebellion on her hands and she didn’t know it.” Instead of focusing on clichés or perceived cultural differences, Missler considers various facets of her loving upbringing, every word colored by a sense of wonder and reverence that she attributes to early lessons from her father. In the end, Missler’s graceful, balanced telling of key moments from her life unfurls beautifully to reach her stated goal of showing that, “Though we may walk in different shoes, in the end, we all have walking in common.”
Poised, polished remembrances.