Native country of the heart A memoir

Cherríe Moraga

Book - 2019

"As a young woman, Elvira left California to work as a cigarette girl in glamorous late-1920s Tijuana, where an ambiguous relationship with a wealthy white man taught her life lessons about power, sex, and opportunity. As Moraga charts her mother's journey from impressionable young girl to battle-tested matriarch to, later on, an old woman suffering under the yoke of Alzheimer, she traces her own self-discovery of her gender-queer body and Lesbian identity, as well as her passion for a...ctivism and the history of her pueblo. As her mother's memory fails, Moraga is driven to unearth forgotten remnants of a U.S. Mexican diaspora, its indigenous origins, and an American story of cultural loss."--Amazon.com.

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BIOGRAPHY/Moraga, Cherrie
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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 242 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 239-240).
ISBN
9780374219666
0374219664
Main Author
Cherríe Moraga (author)
  • Prologue: una salta pa'tras
  • Coyote's daughter
  • Something better
  • Little rascals
  • What ever happened to Normal Rockwell?
  • The other side of the tracks
  • Just eat your chicken
  • Body memory
  • Martin
  • Mission girls
  • Mind-field
  • Don't ask, don't tell
  • Nothing México couldn't cure
  • Training ground
  • Old school
  • A rolling stone
  • Like the heron
  • The mother of the bride
  • "A very nice man"
  • Halloween shuffle 2003
  • A mother's dictum
  • Elvira's country
  • Sweet locura
  • Send them flying home
  • Sibangna
  • Reunion
  • Por costumbre
  • Expressions
  • Some place not home
  • Now and zen
  • When they lose their marbles
  • The wisdom of dolphins
  • Soft spots
  • Sola con los dioses
  • Coyote crossing
  • Roundhouse
  • For the record: an epilogue.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Moraga remembers her difficult mother in a memoir that transcends chronology and the personal. An unlikely matriarch who picked cotton in the Imperial Valley as a child, Elvira supported her family by working in a casino in Tijuana during the Depression. After the family moved back to Southern California, Elvira married Moraga's father, a white man. Coeditor of the classic women of color feminist essay collection This Bridge Called My Back (1981) and a poet, playwright, academic, and queer activist, Moraga expands her narrative to explore her ethnic legacy, which extends to the lost Native legacy of the state of California. The strand threading throughout the tela (fabric) of this narrative is Elvira's Alzheimer's. With short chapters, a little poetry, and a little Spanish, Moraga weaves her and her mother's lives and spirits together in four sections devoted to the broad themes of becoming; family and carnal love; spirits and ghosts; and dementia, dreams, and dying. Moraga's determination to honor her mother while encouraging Mexican Americans to uncover and rescue their own forgotten legacies is a tour de force recommended for every collection. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Moraga (English, Univ. of California Santa Barbara; This Bridge Called My Back) processes the loss of her mother, Elvira, first to Alzheimer's disease and then death. As Elvira undergoes changes eventually diagnosed as Alzheimer's, Moraga plumbs the past to make sense of heritage, displacement, sexuality, and family dynamics. Moraga's mother was born in California and worked as a cigarette girl during the Roaring Twenties in a nightclub frequented by the rich and famous in Tijuana, Mexico. After World War II, she married a younger white man and raised her family in suburban San Gabriel. The home was fraught by an imbalance in temperament, unmet expectations, and the changing times. As her parents age and need increasing amounts of assistance, Moraga examines her mother's past to reach an understanding of her own life's path. VERDICT This thoughtful chronicle of the love and acceptance between mother and daughter, the generational effects of the complicated cultural relations between Mexico and America, and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's will appeal to readers interested in any or all of those subjects.—Laurie Unger Skinner, Highland Park P.L., IL Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Activist Moraga (coeditor, This Bridge Called My Back) tells the story of her mother, Elvira, in this compassionate memoir that explores family and cultural legacies. Moraga weaves her coming-of-age as a queer Mexican-American woman with the story of her mother, who spends her final years battling Alzheimer's. At the center of the narrative is Moraga's attempt to resurrect her family's Mexican and indigenous cultural legacies, both of which she and her mother came to distance themselves from in order to assimilate. Elvira came of age as a young woman in 1930s Tijuana, where she worked as a cigarette girl in casinos; in 1952, she gave birth to Moraga and followed the "dream of Suburban America" by moving the family to San Gabriel, Calif. In 1977, Moraga, who had become involved in women's and gay rights activism, moved to San Francisco. Two decades later, however, Moraga embraced her ancestry by falling in love with a Chicana woman named Celia, "allowing my return to the love of a Mexican woman in my life." During this time, Elvira reached the late stages of Alzheimer's, and Moraga prepared for her mother's death hoping she would finally embrace her own ethnicity. Moraga's captivating and perceptive memoir successfully conveys her belief that "we are as much of a place as we are of a people." (Apr.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From the pioneering queer theorist Cherrâie Moraga, a memoir about her relationship with her mother, and her people"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A Latina writer and activist describes her own coming-of-age alongside that of her mother's, who suffered from Alzheimer's in later life and drove her to catalog the details of both their live before it was too late to remember them.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The pioneering queer theorist examines her Mexican ancestry, lesbian identity, and coming of age alongside her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"This memoir's beauty is in its fierce intimacy." --Roy Hoffman, The New York Times Book ReviewOne of Literary Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019From the celebrated editor of This Bridge Called My Back, Cherríe Moraga charts her own coming-of-age alongside her mother’s decline, and also tells the larger story of the Mexican American diaspora.Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir is, at its core, a mother-daughter story. The mother, Elvira, was hired out as a child, along with her siblings, by their own father to pick cotton in California’s Imperial Valley. The daughter, Cherríe Moraga, is a brilliant, pioneering, queer Latina feminist. The story of these two women, and of their people, is woven together in an intimate memoir of critical reflection and deep personal revelation. As a young woman, Elvira left California to work as a cigarette girl in glamorous late-1920s Tijuana, where an ambiguous relationship with a wealthy white man taught her life lessons about power, sex, and opportunity. As Moraga charts her mother’s journey—from impressionable young girl to battle-tested matriarch to, later on, an old woman suffering under the yoke of Alzheimer’s—she traces her own self-discovery of her gender-queer body and Lesbian identity, as well as her passion for activism and the history of her pueblo. As her mother’s memory fails, Moraga is driven to unearth forgotten remnants of a U.S. Mexican diaspora, its indigenous origins, and an American story of cultural loss.Poetically wrought and filled with insight into intergenerational trauma, Native Country of the Heart is a reckoning with white American history and a piercing love letter from a fearless daughter to the mother she will never lose.