Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Beloved World

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Beloved World

Article excerpt

Its hard not to indulge in clichs when describing Sonia Sotomayor. Diamond in the rough. Rags to riches. Working-class hero.

Yes, she ascended from the South Bronx to the US Supreme Court. And along the way, she broke ground for fellow Hispanics and women at Princeton and Yale. But read her new memoir, My Beloved World, and youll see in Sotomayor a surprising wealth of candor, wit, and affection. No topic is off limits, not her diabetes, her fathers death, her divorce, or her cousins death from AIDS. Put the kettle on, reader, its time for some real talk with Titi Sonia.

In 1954, shes born to Puerto Rican immigrant parents and grows up in the downtrodden projects of the Bronx. At the age of 8, shes diagnosed with diabetes and is told she must have a shot of insulin every day. Alcoholism has left her fathers hands too shaky for the task, so she learns to do the injections herself.

When shes 9 years old, her fathers struggles are over he dies because of health complications. From here, Mami, Junior, and I would be going along without him. Maybe it would be easier this way, she says.

Shes half-orphaned now, living in a neighborhood rampant with drugs and junkies: One by one the shops would darken, and we could hear the clatter of the graffiti-covered gates being rolled down, trucks driving off, until we were the only ones walking. Even the prostitutes had vanished. However, Sonia takes refuge in her beloved world her caring community made up of her immediate and extended family.

The author shines in her passages on childhood, family, and self- discovery. Her magical portraits of loved ones especially her abuelita (grandmother) bring to mind Sandra Cisneross The House on Mango Street; both authors bring a sense of childlike wonder and empathy to a world rarely seen in books, a Latin-American and womancentric world.

She addresses her chronic health condition, which she says presents bittersweet blessings. One is a fine-tuned sensitivity to others emotional states that comes from mentally checking [her] physical sensations every minute of the day. Another is her motivation to succeed. I probably wasnt going to live as long as most people, I figured. So I couldnt afford to waste time.

So how does she a Puerto Rican girl who grew up working-class, who rarely spoke English as a child, and who has no one to chart a path for her get into college, let alone law school? …

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