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My Broken Language

A Memoir

by Quiara Alegría Hudes

My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes X
My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes
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Juliana

the years in the making
My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes is a rich and complex text. A memoir written at the age of forty to record the years of learning that went into forging her identity, an identity including the multitudes in the Perez family. These are the years that went into finding the language that would do justice to her family’s stories, to her story.
It is growing up in her mother’s Hispanic family, more and more estranged in time from her father’s white one, that immerses Qui Qui into the family’s traditions and the rich Puerto Rican culture. Observing and helping out mom with her activism for Latina women, being present for the many family get-togethers at her Abuela’s, reading English classics but also books offered by her mom about Puerto Rican culture, listening to both Western classical music and music by Latino artists, learning about her family history of health struggles due to poverty and abuse (such as the birth control methods which had affected Puerto Rican women including her Abuela in the 50’s) or prejudice and silence (the AIDS cases in her family), Quiara Alegría Hudes paints the portrait of a young age, adolescence as well as young womanhood marked by strong, loving, feisty, sometimes ailing Perez women and a few men related to them, whose battles, victories and losses in North Philly all come together and to light under the pen of the one of them who made it to Yale and then to Brown. The cultures in which she lives reveal themselves in ways that Quiara Alegría Hudes learns to understand, make her own and then unleash with toppling force into the world, including the language of music which, like any language, says more to those with background and instruction in it.
This book cannot be gulped, it needs to be chewed and ruminated.
Gabi

Finding Her “Language”
This book had me hooked from the start. A eloquent memoir of Hudes’ navigation between her “English and Spanish halves” as she strives to find her identity and her direction. Her journey begins in the barrio of North Philly surrounded by passionate Boricua Perez women “who danced through a shitstorm of life,” during occasional visits to the homogeneous white suburbia world of her father, and later during her days at Yale. As her story unfolds Quiara finds her own “language,” and direction in words and music. One experiences her family, her culture, the various traditions and emotions in this vividly written book.
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