September 9, 2013

REVIEW: NEWYORICANGIRL...Surviving my Spanglish Life by Julia Torres (Meet Julia on Sept 14!)

  
 
I experience the very first moment of clarity in my life where I realized I have been saved.  My overwhelming desire to give my baby everything I didn't have -- safety, security, protection, adoration and unconditional love-- becomes my moral compass and I am no longer confused.  I am clear-headed for the first time ever.  Now I understand why I am alive.... My first baby boy was born a quiet gentle soul who guided me to a more peaceful place, while my second baby came out screaming and taught me to spread my wings and fly. --Julia Torres



If you visit the new World Trade Center Plaza, you will find a survivor tree.  One lone tree that survived the mass destruction of September 11.  Just one.

Julia Torres is very much like that tree.  She has experience great abuse, neglect, prejudice and heartache --unfortunately, most of it at the hands of family-- but she is a survivor.  And her faith in herself and her determination to have a better life and be a better person have seen her through everything.

NEWYORICANGIRL is Julia's cathartic memoir written purposely to help others recover and heal from trauma, in the hopes that we can all "live in a more empathetic and peaceful world."  It is brutally honest and poignant.  Julia writes in the very crisp style of the reporter she is.  Her chapters are short and emotionally-packed.  And, though this may seem to me another story of an abused child, it is more than that.  Julia's story is one of Latina Empowerment.  She has reclaimed her name, her heritage, and has become a community and national leader for Puerto Ricans everywhere.

BOOK SUMMARY:   All her life, Julia considered herself one of the "misfit toys" in pain and isolated from everyone.  As a baby, she was always in the crossfire of the war between her parents. After her parents' divorce, her mother becomes the mistress of several Jewish men and sheds her Puerto Rican identify overnight, forcing Julia to do the same.  Her whole childhood is one long deeply painful and isolating experience.  She is neglected, abandoned, raped, forcefully adopted and her identity torn away.  Assimilation is a nightmare.  But despite the violence and the trauma, Julia survives.  Her strength of spirit guides her to graduate from college and become an award winning journalist.  She is in her mid-20s, when she finds her White Knight and raises a happy family.  When she becomes a mother, her purpose becomes clear -- to be a better parent and to reclaim her Puerto Rican heritage for herself and for her children. 

Luckily, she is able to reconcile with her mom before the latter passes away. Unluckily, she is trapped in New York during the bombings on September 11.  But like that survivor tree, Julia is alive and well and prospering. 

Today, Julia fights for the rights of the people in Puerto Rico.  She has started a petition for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution so that all U.S. citizens, no matter where they live, can vote for their President.  (Under the 23rd Amendment, Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S. but are prohibited from voting in the Presidential elections. A true travesty.)

MEET JULIA!  On Saturday, September 14, from 6:00-8:00pm, Julia will be reading from NEWYORICANGIRL and signing copies of her book at La Casa Azul Bookstore on 143 East 103rd Street in Harlem.  All are welcome.

To learn more about this courageous woman, visit her blog at newyoricangirl.com.  Note that Julia's blog has earned the distinction of being one of the Top 100 Latina Blogs.  She uses it to uplift her fellow Latina sisters via education, encouragement and fellowship.  And, we thank her for her efforts.###