June 26, 2017

BOOK OF THE MONTH: RADICAL HOPE: LETTERS OF LOVE AND DISSENT IN DANGEROUS TIMES, EDITED BY CAROLINA DE ROBERTIS


  
Vintage Books
All is not lost.
The future remains unwritten.
It is ours to shape.
      ---Carolina De Robertis


Love not hate makes America great
Fight for Democracy / Fight like a girl
I’m with her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her
Viva la vulva
We can we will
I have been to the future and
                                        We won
Resist defend love
The seas are rising but so are we
        ---signs from the Women’s March on DC



The Latina Book Club has chosen RADICAL HOPE, an anthology of letters of “Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times” as its Book of the Month.  This anthology, edited by author and activist Carolina De Robertis, is a “Symphony of Voices” of both Latinos and non-Latinos written in letter-essays.  The authors are leading novelists, journalists, poets, activists and political thinkers.  These brave, bold writers include Junot Diaz, Reyna Grande, Christina Garcia, Aya De Leon, Jewelle Gomez, and Luis Alberto Urrea, as well as Lisa See, Hari Kunzru, Jane Smiley, Celeste Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen, etc.

Carolina De Robertis got the idea for this anthology following the 2016 election and the wave of fear that swept across our nation following the results. We find it apropos that she wrote the introduction to this anthology on January 16, 2017, as the nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. It seems his cry of “Let Freedom Ring” needs to be taken up again, and this anthology does just that.

RADICAL HOPE is a collection of love letters because as De Robertis states: “love is the blending agent that fuses the political and the intimate, providing urgency to one and context to the other.”  These love letters are “verbal resistance” to the exposed bigotry rampant in our nation. They are “the affirmation of our voices, of our worth.”

She has divided the anthology into three parts:  Roots – letters to our ancestors; Branches – letters to today’s people and communities; and Seeds – letters to the future generations.  

These letters speak of fear, despair, rage, danger, but underneath the overall message comes across loud and clear:  Yes, these are dangerous times. Yes, there is much to fear, but All is not lost. Yes, the future remains unwritten, and Yes, it is ours to shape. De Robertis says it best: 

We are the majority, the future is ours, and we are in this together.


“We are in this together,” a sentiment that Junot Diaz echoes in his letter to his hermana of the heart, Q.  It is Diaz’ love letter that gives the anthology its name – Radical Hope. He urges his sister—and all of us!—to face this “hard new world” and to cultivate radical hope.  “Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible…and (Diaz) believes it will help us create a better, more loving future.”

Aya De León’s “Dear Millennials” Letter is brutally honest: “We—as older generations—are anxious and depressed as hell. We’re numb, isolated.  We’ve gotten used to the lives we settled for. Even though our choices aren’t even available to your generation, still we push these myths as your only options. Your high aspirations scare us and remind us of all the places where we gave up.”

Reyna Grande is more optimistic in her letter to her goddaughter about her determination to push for bridges, and not walls, to be built.

Luis Alberto Urrea wants all of us to realize that there are no Other, there is only Us. He urges all Nasty Women and Bad Hombres to shine, to be the light.

Cristina Garcia writes to her future granddaughter six generations into the future and urges her to sustain the unbroken chain of hope, to live with “grace and dignity and passion—and ensuring these possibilities for all.”

While Meredith Russo asks her two-year old Jewish son in her letter for one promise: “please promise me that you will, insofar as any person can, set your fear aside and devote yourself to a full, honest life. That, my child, is the first and most important act of resistance any of us can undertake.”


RADICAL HOPE is an anthology full of passion and hope. The letters will make readers cry and cheer, and, hopefully!, make readers think and act.  Remember, this is our world, our nation, our people, and We Are All In This Together. ###



ABOUT THE EDITOR:  Carolina De Robertis, is the award-winning author of the novels THE GODS OF TANGO, PERLA and THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN. A longtime activist, De Robertis spent ten years in the nonprofit sector before publishing her first book, and during that time, she led projects concerning issues including women’s rights, immigrant rights, and addressing sexual violence. She teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University. Learn more about her at www.carolinaderobertis.com.



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WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

LET FREEDOM RING




  

May 22, 2017

REVIEW: THE BOSS BY AYA DE LEON (NYC LAUNCH PARTY 5/31!)



NEWS!  Aya de Leon is coming to New York City.
Book Launch Party on Wednesday, May 31, 6-8pm at
Sisters Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center,
1942 Amsterdam Avenue at West 156 Street
All welcome.


  
Dafina Books
THE BOSS is book two in Aya de Leon’s Justice Hustlers series, but it stands alone.

Our street-smart heroine, Tyesha Couvillier, takes on takes on pimps, mobsters, drug pins and bad boy rappers in this sexy, scandalous and suspenseful sequel to UPTOWN THIEF.  De Leon has created memorable characters in a complex, fast paced, heart stopping novel that will grab readers front the first page to the last.

SUMMARY:  Tyesha is an ex-stripper, ex-thief turned sex worker advocate, who pulled herself out of the slums of Chicago and strip clubs of New York to become executive director of a woman’s health crisis center.  She is on top of the world, but one fateful act brings everything crashing down, and has her dodging bullets, mobsters and old enemies.  And, as if that were not enough, Thug Woofer, the man she cannot forgive or forget, wants a third chance. What's a girl to do?!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aya de Leon’s first feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, was published by Kensington Books in July 2016.  Book 2, THE BOSS, debuts on May 30, 2017, with books three and four due out in 2018 and 2019, respectively.  De Leon is a writer and poet. She directs the Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Her writing and performance work has received acclaim in the Village Voice, Washington Post, Oakland Tribune, etc. Learn more about this artist at https://ayadeleon.wordpress.com or @ayadeleon.



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May 18, 2017

BOOK OF THE MONTH: SELF MADE BY NELY GALAN




When you live a rich life
You feel Empowered,
Self-reliant,
Self-actualized,
And Free. –Nely Galán



Spiegel & Grau
Inspiring. Empowering. Every woman should read this book--- from woman driving Uber to pay for her college education, to the Mom needing to support her kids, to the woman looking to get back into the job market, to the woman looking to make a change.

SELF MADE: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way by Nely Galán challenges you to look deep within yourself and dares you to be better.  But this is not just a tell-don’t-show book. Nely has filled her book with exercises and charts that readers can ponder and complete at their own pace.  There are also wonderful portraits of other Latinas who have changed their lives and become self-made like Kathy Cano-Murillo (The Crafty Chica), Melissa Paz, Maria Villar and Monica Maldonado.

Nely boldly proclaims that Self-Made is a Movement for something, not against it.  “It is a movement that hits on every level: personal, communal, cultural, political. It is inclusive, supportive, collaborative. It is entrepreneurship for the rest of us.”

The road to Self-Made is not easy and Nely doesn’t pretend that it is.  In fact, she tells you straight out that it is all up to You.  You have to have a vision for your life and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it.  In fact, “you have to sacrifice and then sacrifice some more.”

But don’t be afraid.  You have the power to change your life, to shape it.  Yes, it may take time, and yes you are going to need support from family and friends, but it can and has been done.  You just have to have faith in yourself and the strength to follow through.

Nely has so many wonderful adages in SELF MADE that you want to make memes out of all of them.  Here are the ones that resonated with me:


Kill Prince Charming – we have to kill the fantasy of some man taking care of us because it keeps us small. We can rescue ourselves.

Choose Yourself – invest in yourself. When you do, people will notice you and they will choose you over and over again.

Power is taken, not given – all about empowerment. You can do it.

Life is about your mission and your money -- money must come first, in order to fulfill your mission and pursue your passion.

Embrace sacrifice – what are you willing to give up to fulfill your dreams, your goals?



I will say it again—every woman needs to read this book and ask herself if she is ready to join the Self Made Movement.  It’s alright if you can’t join now, but be aware of the endless possibilities that await you.

After reading this book, I strongly believe that Nely Galan’s overall message is universal – YOU can change your life.  It is always up to you.#



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dubbed the “Tropical Tycoon” by The New York Times Magazine, Nely Galán is a woman’s empowerment advocate, an Emmy Award-winning television producer, and the owner of Galán Entertainment, a dynamic, multicultural media company that has created more than 700 television shows in English and Spanish and helped launched 10 channels around the world.  The first Latina president of a U.S. television network, Telemundo, Galán is also the founder of the Adelante Movement, a national motivational tour and digital platform that united and empowers Latinas socially, economically, and politically.  Learn more about Nely at www.nelygalan.com, becomingSELFMADE.com, Facebook.com/Becomignselfmade, @beSelfMadenow.


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April 28, 2017

POETRY MONTH! SPOTLIGHT ON MARGARITA ENGLE

   
  
Poetry is like a song, like a psalm, like a prayer. Poetry is different things to many people, and April being Poetry Month,
The Latina Book Club has been celebrating and spotlighting poets all month long.



We are happy to end the month with a brilliant and stupendous poetry collection by the legendary 
Margarita Engle, poet, writer and multiple Pura Belpre award winner. 



Margarita Engle’s collection is rightly named, BRAVO! POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS.  The applause for this collection is endless. She honors the best and the brightest Latino stars. The subjects come from different lands, different professions, but all their poems share a richness that makes us proud to be Latino too.  And many thanks to artist Rafael Lopez who illustrated the books. His drawings are a great compliment to Engle’s poems.


 SUMMARY:  Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, BRAVO!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today. Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, and Tomás Rivera.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many verse books, including the Newbery Honor Book The Surrender Tree, the PEN USA Award winner The Lightning Dreamer, and the Walter Dean Myers Honor Enchanted Air. Her books have also received multiple Pura Belpré and Américas Awards as well as a Jane Addams Award, an International Reading Association Award, and many others. Books for younger children include Mountain Dog, Summer Birds, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award winner Drum Dream GirlLearn more about Engle at www.margaritaengle.com.

ABOUT THE ARTIST:  The work of Rafael López is a fusion of strong graphic style and magical symbolism. Growing up in Mexico City, he was immersed in the rich cultural heritage and native color of street life. He has illustrated many award-winning books, including Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora; Tito Puente Mambo King, by Monica Brown; and The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha Vamos. In 2012 he was selected by the Library of Congress to create the artwork for the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.



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April 26, 2017

POETRY MONTH! SPOTLIGHT ON DR. MARIA ALMA GONZALEZ PEREZ

   
  
Poetry is like a song, like a psalm, like a prayer. Poetry is different things to many people, and April being Poetry Month,
The Latina Book Club is celebrating by featuring Latino poets all month long.


Welcome Dr. Maria Alma González Pérez, whose new collection of Spanish poetry evokes feelings of love, community and survival.



Vivamos la realidad
de nuestra sangre
que nos da nuestra
identidad.
---Dr. Maria Alma González Pérez


  
Dr. Maria Alma González Pérez has written a beautiful collection of poems in Spanish entitled CANTOS DEL ALMA Y DEL CORAZON.  It’s an emotional assortment of 50 poems to celebrate love, love of her parents, love of family, and love of her culture.  We especially loved her poem, Vivamos La Realidad, which translates roughly into Living the Truth. In it she proclaims that it is the blood of the people that carries the truth of their race and the truth of their identity.   

Another striking aspect of González Pérez’ book is that each poem is paired with a stunning photograph that compliments the poem. The words alone are rich, emotional and memorable, but alongside the photo the reader gets an immediate visual that strikes at the heart faster. If we could, we would rip out each page and frame them to display around the house.  Bravo, Dr. González Pérez, Bravo.


SUMMARY:  CANTOS DEL ALMA Y DEL CORAZON expresses feelings and emotions from personal experience. This collection of 50 poems written in Spanish provides the reader with a sensitive, yet realistic perspective of love, the family, and culture among other topics. Each poem is complemented by a photograph that serves as a scenic backdrop to enhance its meaning. Includes an instructional guide of classroom activities for the teaching and discussion of poetry in the classroom.


CANTOS DEL ALMA Y DEL CORAZON expresa sentimientos y emociones brotadas de la experiencia del diario vivir.  Esta colección de 50 poemas provee al lector con una sensible perspectiva del amor, la familia, y la cultura entre otros temas.  Cada poema es complementado por una fotografía que sirve como fondo pintoresco para encarecer su significado. Finalmente, un apéndice de actividades sirve como material suplementario para la instrucción y discusión de la poesía en el aula bilingüe.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. González Pérez is a poet and writer.  She is also a former bilingual education professor and director for the University of Texas Pan American Starr County campus. She writes Spanish poetry, children’s bilingual and local South Texas history books, as well as teacher training materials. She lives in Zapata, TX, a community along the Rio Grande border area. Learn more about her at www.delalmapublications.com.



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