July 21, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: TRY TO REMEMBER BY IRIS GOMEZ

Grand Central Publishing
Young Adult



Don’t let the Young Adult label fool you. This is a book for adults as well, especially those adults that are first generation children. I am a first generation child. My mother came to the US from Puerto Rico in 1958. She spoke no English, had not finished high school (education for females was considered unnecessary) and knew about two people who lived in New York. But she came looking for the American Dream.

I remember as a child being acting as translator for her with doctors and teachers. I can still recall the frustration on her face when she couldn’t express herself even with my help. One day she just turned off the Spanish radio and changed our TV from a telenovela to some sort of western. (Who doesn’t love John Wayne?!) That was the turning point in our lives. She was determined to learn English and to give us a better chance at life, and so she did. My mom graduated from Brooklyn College and became a Social Worker with the City of New York so she could help other Spanish immigrants get the help and services they needed.



In Iris Gomez’ TRY TO REMEMBER, Gabriela too acts as translator for her non-English speaking parents. She is their “Auxiliadora”, The Helper. Her parents moved from their native Columbia to Miami in search of a better life. At 15, Gabriela must become the caretaker of her family – her schizophrenic dad, her traditional mom, and two hellion brothers. Poor Gabriela is swamped with family concerns, hormones and peer pressures. Her only escape is babysitting, where she is exposed to other families and Lara, a modern feminist and her mom’s total opposite. Soon Gabriela finds herself being pulled in different directions between the traditional and the modern, her family and her friends, her roots and her new country. Growing up is a long hard journey. Readers will laugh, cry and rejoice as they journey alongside this brave young woman.


Please leave a comment and let us know how much you enjoyed the book, what you thought of Gabriela’s journey into adulthood, and what you think about the immigrant experience in general.



READ LATINO. ---mcf