[I am so happy to welcome Alicia back for this year. I love reading A Kernel of Nonsense – and you should follow too! I feel like one of our earliest conversations was about Anna-Marie McLemore and so this post is SO fitting. The book reviews are always so well-written and they give you exactly what you’re looking for. This week is just full of amazing bloggers you ALL should follow!]
A huge thank you to Lili for inviting me to participate in her blogiversary with this guest post. Lili always writes smart and insightful reviews. If you’re not already following her, I encourage you to do so. This guest prompt revolves around the importance of representation in books: if and where we’ve seen ourselves and what we’d like to see.
“She was making fun of him. She liked making fun of him. Of how the colors of things shocked him. Of how his face always showed his wonder at the grandmothers turning tortillas over blue flames, fingers so close the fire almost touched them.”
This is a quote from Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty and I bring it up because as innocuous as it sounds, it actually brought me to tears when I read it. It still does as I read over it now. I haven’t had an “aha” moment where I’ve come across a character that perfectly represents me as a Latina, but with more and more Latinx authors being published, there have been moments where a particular line will resonate with me so deeply that I have to stop reading and mull over it for a while.
To many this particular line from Wild Beauty is a beautiful descriptor, but nothing more. To me, this is part of my Mexican heritage. This is me remembering my own grandmas, of seeing them doing the simple act of warming a tortilla over a burner. It’s all the stories I’ve been told by my mother and father about their mothers’ tenacity and warmth and the impossible things they did for them when they were children that at times felt a little like magic. It’s my grandmother’s tortilla recipe being past down to my dad. It’s him hunched over, kneading masa (dough) and my mom in the kitchen, her apron and hands full of flour, while she cooks tortillas on the comal she inherited from her mother.
It’s lines like these that make me feel seen. That make me feel that who I am and where I come from has value outside of my own community. It says that my own experiences and those of other Latinxs are seen as important, that other people are recognizing that our voices have merit too, that our stories deserve to be heard.
I’ve picked up books by Latinx authors that range from coming-of-age contemporaries to magical realism. I’d love to see a wider range of books by Latinx authors in general, but one thing I’d really like to see is happy Latinx characters. I want smiling Latinx models on books, I want fluffy romances, and happily-ever-afters for these characters. I want Latinx authors and characters to be allowed to be more than their pain.