Synopses & Reviews
Torn between the high socioeconomic status of her father and the bohemian lifestyle of her mother, Melissa Hart tells a compelling story of contradiction in this coming-of-age memoir.
Set in 1970s Southern California, Gringa is the story of a young girl conflicted by two extremes. On the one hand there's life with her mother, who leaves her father to begin a lesbian relationship, taking Hart and her two siblings along. Hart tells of her mom's new life in a Hispanic neighborhood of Oxnard, California, and how these new surroundings begin to positively shape Hart herself.
At the opposite extreme is her father's white-bread well-to-do security, which is predictable and stable and boring. Hart is made all the more fraught with frustration when a judge rules that being raised by two women is "unnatural" and grants her father primary custody.
Hart weaves a powerful story of fleeting moments with her mother, of her unfolding adoration of Oxnard's Latino culture, and of the ways in which she's molded by the polarity of her parents' worldviews. Hart is faced with opposing ideals, caught between what she is "supposed" to want and what she actually desires.
Gringa offers a touching, reflective look at one girl's struggle with the dichotomies of class, culture, and sexuality.
"Hart lets us in on the desires, aspirations, and vulnerabilities of growing up as a queerspawn who's straight and forcibly separated from her lesbian mom....A wonderful story from a brave and endearing soul!" Rachel Epstein, editor of Who's Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting; coordinator, LGBTQ Parenting Network, Sherbourne Health Centre, Toronto
"Gringa is a truly timely book. As a middle-class WASP child of divorce whose lesbian mother relocates to a Latino neighborhood, Hart longs for a 'discernable culture'.... a compelling story, lyrically written, from the new America." Sue William Silverman, author, Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir
"Instead of being horrified by Patricia's run-down ranch house, Hart was gripped by a strange excitement. 'I went wild and barefoot, braided my hair like an Indian maiden, and planted a garden of sunflowers and corn next to a rickety chicken coop my mother stocked with Rhode Island Reds.' It's where she began a lifelong infatuation with Latino food and culture, associating her mother's blue VW bus with freedom, tacos and the songs she heard driving around town." Katie Schneider, The Oregonian (read the entire )
About the Author
Melissa Hart teaches journalism at the University of Oregon and memoir writing for UC Berkeley’s online extension program. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the Advocate, Fourth Genre, and High Country News. Hart is a contributing editor for Writer magazine. She lives in Oregon with her husband, photographer Jonathan B. Smith, and their daughter, Maia.