In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As part of my Borders 2017 reading project, I wanted to read at least one book discussing undocumented people in America. Diane Guerrero is the only American-born member of her family, and when she was 14, her parents and brother were deported to Colombia. She arrived home to find an empty house, and the INS and Dept of Social Services somehow let her slip through the cracks. Thankfully the family had friends that took her in.
It would be easy, and at first I found myself doing this too, to get distracted by Diane's silly outbursts and pop culture references, and not take her story very seriously. Or to just be impressed by her gumption, which is evidential. But keeping herself together, growing up overnight, all these things took a tremendous toll that took years to surface. She may have impressively survived the teenage loss of family, but I'm almost more impressed by her survival of her college years and beyond.
I say loss of family even though her family members were still alive, because it was never the same after they were deported. She was able to visit them in Colombia and then again in Spain, but without daily contact and support, roles and familiarity changed significantly. Yet she had the understanding of how much her parents had sacrificed to try to leave Colombia, and refused to move there with them despite knowing they would not be able to return to the states. I enjoyed hearing her talk about her first trip to Colombia in particular, because it is so foreign to her, and interesting to hear her feelings about some of the religious and holiday traditions as experienced by this insider-outsider that she had to be.
(If her face seems familiar, I know Diane Guerrero from Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. The book goes through her arrival on the set of OitNB, and could also be instructive for how to make a break in Hollywood.)
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