Author: Elva Treviino Hart
Summary: In 1953, when she was only three, her parents took the family from Texas to work in the fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin for the first time, only to find that in order to comply with the child labor law they had to leave the author and her 11-year-old sister to board in a local Catholic school, where they pined for the rest of the family. Hart remembers other years when the entire family participated in the backbreaking field labor, driven mercilessly by Apa (her father), who was determined to earn enough money to allow all his children to graduate from high school. Apa not only achieved his goal but was able to save $2000 so that Hart could enter college, a step that led to her earning a master’s degree in computer science. This account is not, however, an ordinary memoir of triumph over adversity. Instead, Hart eloquently reveals the harsh toll that poverty and discrimination took on her family–in sharply etched portraits of Ama, Hart’s worn-out mother who clearly loved her daughter but was too exhausted to show it; of her brother Rudy, who refused to sit at the back of the bus because he was a Mexican; and of her teenage sisters, who struggled to keep their dignity in the muddy fields. She recalls many painful incidents in school and with childhood friends that stemmed from being Mexican in a small white Texas town. At 17, she drove her father back to Mexico to visit his family; she recalls how he suddenly changed into a happy man who felt at home with his land, his language and his people. This is a beautifully written debut from a writer to watch.