Just Like Us

IMG_4517This was the first in my summer reading challenge (with a health humanities/social justice slant): Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, by Helen Thorpe (Scribner, 2009). I ran across this book last month at Denver’s lovely downtown ‘LoDo’ Tattered Cover Bookstore (a highly recommended indie bookstore). I asked the helpful information desk woman to direct me to books by local authors, and this was one she recommended.

I give it a one (sunny peace symbol) out of five–also known as ‘I did not like it.’ While it is generally well written, I found it to be too superficial in its treatment of the complex issue of immigration. At one point in the book, Thorpe likens her struggles to be taken seriously as a journalist (while being known mainly as the wife of the Mayor of Denver) with the Mexican young women’s struggles to assimilate to life in the United States. Really? How did that statement get past the book’s editors? In addition, the author lost credibility to me when she admitted to not speaking or understanding Spanish, when the families of the four girls she highlights in the book are mono-lingual Spanish-speaking.

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