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Other titles in the American Lives series:
Island of Bones: Essays (American Lives)by Joy Castro
Synopses & Reviews
What is “identity” when youre a girl adopted as an infant by a Cuban American family of Jehovahs Witnesses? The answer isnt easy. You wont find it in books. And you certainly wont find it in the neighborhood. This is just the beginning of Joy Castros unmoored life of searching and striving that shes turned to account with literary alchemy in Island of Bones.
In personal essays that plumb the depths of not-belonging, Castro takes the all-too-raw materials of her adolescence and young adulthood and views them through the prism of time. The result is an exquisitely rendered, richly detailed perspective on a uniquely troubled young life that reflects on the larger questions each of us faces in a world where diversity and singularity are forever at odds. In the experiences of her past—hunger and abuse, flight as a fourteen-year-old runaway, single motherhood, the revelations of her “true” ethnic identity, the suicide of her father—Castro finds the “jagged, smashed place of edges and fragments” that she pieces together to create an island all her own. Hers is a complicated but very real depiction of what it is to “jump class,” to not belong but to find ones voice in the interstices of identity.
"Castro (The Truth Book: A Memoir), University of Nebraska — Lincoln English and ethnic studies professor and novelist, offers a tough and elegant collection of 20 brief essays. With the exception of some pieces on the craft of writing, personal essays make up the majority of the book, recursively touching on Castro's complex experiences as a mother, a Latina, a daughter who lost her father to suicide, a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, a wife in a long and happy marriage, and a working-class child successfully entering the academy. With each essay, Castro's prose adds layers to her story. Transitioning smoothly between subjects, Castro shapes her essays with a pleasing variety in style and tone: 'Clips of My Father's House' is a collage of snippets, while 'On Becoming Educated' is more argumentative, almost a polemic, and 'Vesper Adest' resembles a prose poem. With undeniably strong prose, Castro is equally uncompromising in her anger, intelligence, empathy, and confusion, each essay turning and enriching the one before without repetition or break in rhythm. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Joy Castro is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of English and the Institute for Ethnic Studies. Castros first book, The Truth Book: A Memoir (available as a Nebraska Paperback), was named a Book Sense Notable Book by the American Booksellers Association, and her novel, Hell or High Water, was named a National Latino Book Club selection.
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