The story of Rosela begins in Mexico, in a dry land where people need much and many times do not have enough. She and her mother take the journey up, to unknown lands with so much uncertainty...but with an incredible desire to see their lives amount to something other than a shunned, divorced mother and her fatherless daughter. Mexico will remain Rosela's identity throughout her memoir, sometimes she loves this fact, others ( like when she was a teen in the 60's she wishes it were not so) she wishes she could be, and especially look more like her blond American friends. She lives in time when immigrants lives were even more uncertain than they are today, a time when the Vietnam war was full force, and the excitable 60's and 70's were rolling through. I enjoyed reading about how this impacted her as a foreigner, and what the feelings were towards her during this time.
Rosela does not set the goals that would be acceptable for her to reach (as an immigrant in a small town), but she longs for dreams that will satisfy her, and fulfill her purpose. She grew up an outsider, but not only an outsider when she was in California, but also when she went on trips back to Mexico. Life is not easy, and mistakes are made, but Rosela's story is one of hope, dreams and much courage. I was honored to read Rose Castillo Gibault's memoir, the lessons she learned are not only for her situation, but I found them completely relatable. Because I could easily relate to this feeling of not fitting in very well, or depending on other's mercy to feel "at home", Farmworker's Daughter was that book that feels just right. Not pretentious, preachy or condemning, but just the right blend of truth, reality, and life.
The writing of Farmworker's Daughter was really great, I enjoyed reading from the perspective of the little girl, then adolescent, then college age woman. It had really good follow through and lead me on right to the end of the book very smoothly. I loved reading this book, check it out!
Here are some quotes ( I love quotes so I always have to include them!!):
"As a teenager I once asked my mother why she had left since she always talked about the greatness of Mexico. Maybe she had given up too much to come here, I suggested. She thoughtfully considered what I knew to be an impudent comment, and I immediately felt guilty. She shook her head sadly and looked into space, as if her gaze could travel back in time and pinpoint the precise moment she had made that momentous decision. [...] "There was nothing to loose. There was nothing for you and me.""(p. 23).
" Once I stepped outside my door, I was all alone and had to fend for myself. The only thing I feared more than school was disappointing my mother, so I hid my anxieties" (p. 48).
"One of the most memorable episodes during my years in Mrs. Rojas class was the day our class picture was taken and Mrs. Rojas announced that the prettiest and most photogenic person in class was Ramona--a shy Mexican girl. The blondes were shocked, Ramona blossomed with new self-confidence and the rest of us were struck by the notion that a Mexican could be considered beautiful" (p. 86).
"It was great to be popular in Mexico by acting out being an American, because in the United States I certainly didn't feel like one" (p. 112).
" Those Americans found Mexicans in Mexico charming, but those same Mexicans, it seemed, quickly lost their "charm" once in the United States. My cousins were proud, and being snubbed left them with little desire to explore beyond the small-town prejudices. They did not return" (p. 114).