Fierce

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” Debuts On Stage And Proves To Be A Huge Hit

The beloved bestselling novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter captivated just about every Latina in 2017. So when it was announced that the book, which follows 15-year-old Julia as she learns to cope with her older sister’s death, was getting the stage treatment, we were beyond thrilled.

Now, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is officially on stage and once again breaking hearts.

The theatrical adaptation, which is written by Chicago playwright Isaac Gómez, retells the story of Julia a girl stricken by the grief of her sister’s untimely death. Always under her parents’ watch, Juila questions her sister’s death as well as how to deal with her own issues with self-esteem. In the midst of her suffering, she decides to fight her way out of her family’s financially poor living conditions and into college outside of Chicago.

Speaking to Teen Vogue about the adaptation of her book, author Erika Sánchez spoke about her motivation for the book.

“I felt like I wanted to write the book I needed as a kid, [the one] young girls of color also need,” Sánchez said explaining that she wanted to write a book that “makes [young people] feel less alone, that someone understands them and what they’re going through.”

The 90-minute play made its debut in Chicago last week.

Actress Karen Rodriguez plays the part of Julia and told Teen Vogue she fell in love with the book because of its relevance. “I think the biggest thing that struck me the most was [Julia’s] journey of discovering that she is not okay mentally. She is going through a serious bout of depression,” Rodriguez explained to Teen Vogue. “I want young women that look like me and people who are outside of that experience to realize that Mexicans and brown people are not monoliths. It’s important to relate to experiences that might feel outside of your immediate experience, but actually you can totally relate to.”

 The show will run through April 5.

On March 13 there will be a special Spanish captioned performance. Tickets are $20.

“The Hate U Give” Is Getting A Prequel Thanks To Author Angie Thomas About Maverick

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“The Hate U Give” Is Getting A Prequel Thanks To Author Angie Thomas About Maverick

The Hate U Give/ 20TH CENTURY FOX)

Back in 2017, author Angie Thomas released the YA novel, The Hate U Give. The Black Lives matter book quickly caught attention for its story related to the Black Lives Matter movement and quickly became a success debuting at number one on The New York Times young adult best-seller list where it remained for 50 weeks. Within a year of its publication the book was adapted into a film starring  Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, K. J. Apa, Common, and Anthony Mackie.

This week, author Angie Thomas announced that she’s bringing the power of the original story back.

https://www.instagram.com/angiethomas/

In a post to her Instagram account, Thomas announced that she has written a prequel to the beloved novel. In a post featuring a photo of the new book cover, Thomas shared that her new novel called Concrete Rose that her book is due to be published. “After months of waiting (and trolling on my part), I can finally reveal my third novel, Concrete Rose. Set 17 years before The Hate U Give, it follows young Maverick Carter. A huge thank you to Alison Donalty, Jenna Stempel-Lobell, and artist Cathy Charles for this mind-blowing cover. It’s beyond my wildest dreams,” she wrote in her post.

Speaking to People about her upcoming novel, Thomas explained why she chose to center the book around the father of the protagonist from her first novel.

“Of all characters who really just stayed with me, Maverick was at the top of that list,” Angie explained to People. “And what was fascinating to me was once readers started reading The Hate U Give and then when the film came out, he was the character that I was asked about the most.”

Like Thomas’s last book, “Concrete Rose,” takes its title from a Tupac Shakur title.

The title comes from the Tupac Shakur song “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” and will follow Maverick’s when he is 17-years-old and a young father to Starr’s older brother, Seven.

“The big thing I’m excited for readers to learn about with Maverick, specifically, is that there are things that he has done in his life that his kids don’t even know about,” Angie told People interview. “I’m also excited to show this bonding between father and son… So many people assume that Black kids, especially Black kids in the hood, don’t have fathers. And that’s a lie. So many of them do.”

Here’s Why The Oprah Winfrey-Promoted Book ‘American Dirt’ Is Getting So Much Heat

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Here’s Why The Oprah Winfrey-Promoted Book ‘American Dirt’ Is Getting So Much Heat

LA Times / Twitter

Whether or not you follow Oprah’s Book Club, you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding the most recent novel on her list: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. The book follows protagonist Lydia Quixano Pérez, a middle-class Mexican bookseller who escapes Acapulco with her 8-year-old son, Luca, after a drug cartel massacres their family at a quinceañera. When Lydia and Luca flee to the US on a freight train, the story unfolds as a chronicle of two migrants’ dangerous journey across the border.

On the surface, American Dirt appears to draw much-needed attention to the experience of countless people seeking safety and prosperity in the US—and while many folks are debating whether or not the book actually succeeds in doing this, it was definitely marketed that way.

After igniting a bidding war between nine publishing houses, American Dirt was ultimately sold to Flatiron Books for seven figures in 2018. With its topical and pervasive subject matter, the publishers assumed that the book would be a hit—and at first, it was. It was endorsed by major writers and celebrities, from Stephen King to Salma Hayek, and it received glowing reviews from several Latina authors, including Sandra Cisneros, Reyna Grande, and Julia Alvarez. Preorders from booksellers were so abundant that Flatiron increased its first printing from 300,000 copies to 500,000. And, of course, Oprah announced that the novel would feature as her Book Club’s first read of 2020.

But with all the hype that preceded American Dirt’s January 21 release came questions about its validity.

Credit: Youtube / CBS News

In May of last year, Flatiron held a book promotion dinner honoring the novel, and the event featured floral arrangements wrapped in barbed wire—an aesthetic choice that sparked a fair amount of early skepticism about the book (on Twitter, the decor was decried as “border chic”). Several prominent figures in the literary world are accusing Cummins—who referred to herself as “white” in a 2015 New York Times essay, but now identifies as “white and Latinx”—of cultural appropriation, asserting that she is capitalizing on the suffering of a group that she doesn’t belong to (though one of her grandmothers was Puerto Rican). Many Latinx writers have expressed disdain for the publishing industry’s tendency to support white authors telling the stories of marginalized groups, rather than elevating authors who actually identify with those groups themselves. Others are simply critical about the prose, lamenting Cummins’ clumsy reliance on racial stereotypes and use of a Spanish not typical of Mexico.

And although several Latinx folks are either actively critiquing or distancing themselves from the book, others remain optimistic about its effect on pop culture. Cristian Perez, a 25-year-old teacher who is Mexican-American, told the New York Times that he” had not heard about American Dirt or the controversy, but he was glad to see a writer using her ‘privilege’ to ‘bring light to the misfortunes of other people.’”

Mexican-American poet and novelist Erika L. Sánchez had initially said that the novel was written with “grace, compassion, and precision,” but recently mentioned in an interview that she wouldn’t have supported the book so fervently if she had known it would cause so much tumult. Still, she added, “I hope this book inadvertently opens up doors for people of color.”

Cummins insists that her aim was to do just that—to highlight the very real, very urgent plight of Latinx immigrants, though she realized she may not be the best person to do so. In the afterword to the novel, Cummins wrote that she wishes that “someone slightly browner than [her] would write” this story—another statement that has not sat well with her critics, as it seems to dismiss the many excellent Latinx authors writing this type of story every day.

Credit: Heather Sten / The New York Times

In regard to the controversy, Cummins stands by her book and the creative decisions she made while writing it. “I do think that the conversation about cultural appropriation is incredibly important, but I also think that there is a danger sometimes of going too far toward silencing people,” she told the New York Times. “Everyone should be engaged in telling these stories, with tremendous care and sensitivity.”

As the contention surrounding American Dirt runs its course, all eyes are on the publishing industry, which continues to fumble its attempts to make the literary landscape more inclusive. A 2015 study showed that white people made up 79% of the industry overall, with only 6% of the industry comprised by Latinx folks. Let’s hope that after the conversation sparked by American Dirt, 2020 looks a lot different.

And in the meantime, here’s a quick list of books by Latina authors that you should read right now! Thanks to our Instagram followers for the recommendations!

The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez

Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, by Raquel Cepeda

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

Dominicana, by Angie Cruz

Malinche, by Laura Esquivel

In the Country We Love, by Diane Guerrero

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez