Friday, October 16, 2009
Americ Libre by Raul Ramos Y Sanchez
"America Libre" by Raul Ramos Y Sanchez is a page turner. From the moment I picked it up, I didn't want to do anything but finish it. This is the story about Hispanics in America. Like all people the Hispanics yearn for the right to live ordinary lives like other citizens. To be treated differently erases all their human dignity.
If people lose their self respect because of the insanity of other people, there has to come a breaking point. In the novel this is the time when the more able Hispanics choose to fight rather than to continue to lead such horrific lives. Mano and Rosa are one such couple. They have three children: Julio, Pedro and their little girl. Sadly, Mano can't find work during hard economic times. This unfortunate incident leads to the unraveling of the family's lives.
I was totally unable to remove myself from caring about this one family's turmoil. Their catastrophes seemed to reach out like the tentacles of an octapus touching the whole Hispanic community until danger had reached every corner of the barrios of California.
Each chapter is listed as days and months. Each chapter begins with a quotation about repression, revolution, etc. It is as if Raul Ramos Y Sanchez thought of the need for centering while reading the pages of his book. After all inside the book the whole world is wildly out of control. The author forced me to look at the world through the eyes of a Hispanic.Somehow, this intimacy or empathy is not gained by just looking at nightly news or a two hour documentary. Reading the book forced me to sit down and linger over the words of the United States government and the words of the Hispanic. I could hear in my ears and read over and over again the stereotypes faced by this community.
Yes, the age old term "stereotypes" plays a role in this book. I questioned myself. How much of what I believe is truly true rather than what I expect to see or hear because of gleanings from the media or friends? The book made me search my heart. After finishing the book, I can make a statement. I see more clearly now.
Thank goodness Raul Ramos Y Sanchez won The International Latino Book Award for Best Novel. He and the words from his pen will help America truly live by and believe in the words on The Statue of Liberty.