(From our summer intern, Natasha Rivera)
If books had to have warning labels, I’d imagine that Esmeralda Santiago’s newest would say “WARNING: INSIDE BEAUTY, PASSION AND THE HEAT OF PUERTO RICO. READING THIS WILL CAUSE MINOR FANTASIES AND OBSESSIONS ”
When I was younger, the summer before I started at my new private all-girls school, I was assigned Esmeralda Santiago’s WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN as summer reading. Looking back, the book was a greatly appreciated cushion to the deep culture shock the 8th grade version of me was trying to understand. Santiago’s deeply personal memoir was starting point for my fascination of culture studies. A part of me is mildly frightened of a new obsession with historical fiction that her new novel CONQUISTADORA is going to spark– especially because the plot sets off with Ana Cubillas and her own obsession developed after reading the diary of her ancestors who were among the first conquistadors in the new world.
While I can blame my imagination and insatiable appetite for fiction for little to no sleep at times, Ana takes it one step further– she shapes her life choices to revolve around crossing the ocean from Spain to Puerto Rico. After clever scheming, she gets there and while the obstacles, including running a sugar plantation, are great, it’s a dream come true.
But Puerto Rico brings overwhelming beauty and complication to Ana’s life, and, over time, things become less sweet and simple. How do you reconcile the fruition of your dream at the hands of others’ pain? ‘Be careful what you wish for’ has to have some truth.
So what about you? Is there any historical legacy, familial or not, that you would like to trace back and reconnect to? Leave your answer in the comments to be eligible to win an ARC! Since I’m posting this after lunch, you have until Tuesday!