Sunday, April 6, 2008

Farmworker's Daughter (review during SuNdaY sAlon)

Title: Farmworker's Daughter
Author: Rose Castillo Guilbault
Pages: 179
Publisher: Heyday Books
Yearly Count: 14
Completed: 5, April, 2008
Snaps (rated): 4/5

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).


Beastmomma said...

That sounds like a great book; I love stories about bi-cultural experience.

kristen said...

Sounds like a good choice for the lastest Carnival of Books!

Myrthe said...

Thanks so much for the review, this sounds like a very interesting book. I can relate to the outsider-feeling, having moved to a different country myself. The interesting thing is that I feel more like an outsider now when I go back to Holland for a visit than when I am in Armenia, where I live.

Trish said...

Thanks for the thoughtful review, Bethany. I enjoy a story that can effectively take the reader through the character's life without the story dragging. Sounds like this book does a good job of developing with the character.

joanna said...

This sounds really interesting - I too can relate to these themes of being an outsider and so on, I'll have to read it. Thanks for the review, it's so great to find out about books one would normally not come across!

bethany said...

*beastmomma- yes, they are my fave...I just love how I can relate to different things in their lives.

*kristen- it does!? I am trying to figure out what the Carnival of Books is, I am so interested now!!!what is it??

*myrthe- you are welcome, yes it was a great book. That outsider feeling is hard I think, especially for kids in their developmental stages (emotionally), but it can be very lonely at whatever age.

*trish- you are welcome! yes, travel her story I did! it was definitely not dragging, but very deep at the same time..not superficial.

*joanna- That is why I love book blogging...there are so many amazing books that I would have never thought to read on my own, but I have been exposed to because of this world. yay!!

Anonymous said...

I read what you'd written about the Gypsies on Carp (e) libris Reviews. You said you were aware at a young age of the classism against the Gypsies. That was a very perceptive observation. Having traveled extensively for well over a decade in Eastern Europe...the classism was something most hardly noticed. One thing I learned decades ago is that ...every life touches...every other life.

One of my most vivid memories is the way they would wash their horses in the streams. I' so thankful that much of their lives I caught on tape. It's a constant source of joy to me.



Corinne said...

BETHANY - What are the chances? I just picked this up while waiting in line at the library yesterday and almost checked it out! It looked great and based on your review, it is now on my TBR list. Like beastmomma, I like stories about cross cultural experiences. In fact, if you have some other ideas, I may be using that as a theme for my online book club :)

beastmomma said...

Other good books about cross-cultural experiences are: Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan; Mistress of Spices-- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Corinne-- if you do start the online book club, please let me know how I could join! It sounds fabulous.

bethany said...

I tried to go to your blog, but it didn't work...if you read this send me a link!
I grew up in Spain and it was a society that because of the insanely low ethnic diversity is not aware of the racism that exists, with the only other race there...which are the gypsies.

That is awesome!! You should totally read it, and let me know what you think of it. I love reading your reviews!

Uhm...well really have liked several lately: Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston is amazing, I enjoyed Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Namesake was also good...but not as good by her. Some others that come to mind are: Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, and The Crystal Frontier by Carlos Fuentes. My husband says What is the What by Dave Eggers is good and does include the cross cultural aspect. And I enjoyed In Cuba I was a German Shepherd by Ana Menendez ,that one is short stories.

Okay...that is probably much more than you wanted...oh, and let me know too if you do a book club, I see that you already have one, but I didn't know if it was that one or another one(seems beastmomma is interested too)!

I have always wondered about The Poisonwood Bible...honestly the title scared, so I haven't really looked into it. I have several of her other books and have read one.
I own the other two...but haven't read them yet. Glad you like them.

Corinne said...

Bethany - I LOVED the Poisonwood Bible. Loved it. I've actually read What is the What and found it fascinating and horrible. The cross cultural aspect was almost as disturbing as the Sudanese experience (amazing book though).

Bethany and beastmomma - Thanks for the list of other options. Mistress of Spices is already in my TBR drawer waiting to be read. I'm always trying to come up with good "lists" of book ideas :)

beastmomma said...

I read a lot of the books that bethany mentioned; those suggestions sound great.

Bethany: I was hesitant about Poisonwood Bible too, but I found it to be a good exploration of what happens when one culture tries to impose its values (and religion) on another without regard to the local customs and traditions. I have heard Barbara Kingsolver speak and just find her to be incredible.

Corinne: After I posted my suggestions, I saw that Mistress of Spices was on your list for a challenge. You get so much reading done; it is quite impressive!

Corinne said...

beastmomma - I can't believe you heard Barbara Kingsolver speak!!! I would LOVE that. Have you read any of her other books??

Bethany - hope you don't mind this extended conversation on your blog :)

beastmomma said...

Corinne-Yes, I have read other Barbara Kingsolver books. I read Animal Dreams, Bean Trees, and Pigs in Heaven. I also read a collection of short stories whose name is not coming to me right now.

Bethany-- thanks for letting the conversation continue here.

Corinne said...

beastmomma - High Tide in Tucson? Small Wonder??

beastmomma said...

Yes, High Tide in Tuscon.

bethany said...

*corinne and beastmomma-
no is fun to be in on it. I too like Barbara, I have only read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle none of the fiction stuff. Thanks for informing me.

We are soon going to read The Bean Trees for our book club.

Corinne said...

I really liked the Bean Trees. I read it for book club too and we had a really interesting discussion :)

Ramya said...

hey bethany, so was this book a part of your orbis terrarum challenge?? howz that going??

Ramya said...

Yeah.. you must read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and let me know what you thought about it. I know what you mean by your fascination with the middle east. I have picked up a few more books to add to my Orbis Terrarum Challenge and one of it is set in Turkey.. the bastard of istanbul. Am excited about reading it!:)