Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Ordinary Girls, by Jaquira Díaz {ends 6/24}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Ms. Gold was known in most cliques as the counselor for the losers, druggies, troublemakers, kids who got suspended, kids who fought or brought knives to school, kids who flunked so much they were already too old for Nautilus, kids whose parents were drunks or junkies, or whose parents beat them, homeless kids, bullied kids, kids with eating disorders, or brain disorders, or anger problems. So naturally, when I showed up at her door, she knew exactly who I was.

Jaqui Díaz’s life as a child and teenager is constant chaos. This memoir tells of her survival through abuse and her own bad choices, and the value of her friendships over the long haul.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Ordinary Girls, by Jaquira Díaz {ends 6/24}
In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age.

While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.


The writing in this memoir is powerful. It doesn’t ask for your pity or sympathy for the abuse and hardships the author endured. It just shows you how life is for some unfortunate kids. The language and depictions of some incidents in her life make it easy to feel empathy and even justification for some of her poor choices (that generally led to more negative consequences). The beautiful part was recognizing the nurturing relationships and friendships that lasted throughout, even when they didn’t feel helpful in the moment.

As a memoir that reads as engagingly as a fiction story, this book also shows that even without the additional abuses, the author’s life was never going to be easy. As a Puerto Rican woman struggling with her sexual identity, she had so many struggles to face without adding in her father’s infidelity, and her mother’s and grandmother’s mental illnesses and addictions. It would have been a story about overcoming adversity even if the rest of her circumstances had been ideal.

This book would be recommended for any adult who enjoys memoirs and learning about other people’s lives. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a Michigander through and through. She loves having four seasons, drinking Rock and Rye, and going up-north in the summertime. Check out her other reading adventures at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of Ordinary Girls!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, June 24th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be contacted via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Ordinary Girls, by Jaquira Díaz

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