For Platypire’s Diversity Challenge, I’ve been trying to read one nonfiction and one fiction book for the theme she suggests each month. It’s led me to read a lot of great books I might not have picked up otherwise. When I remember to plan my reading, it also means I do a better job reading books with protagonists who are underrepresented in books relative to population stats. These are the two books I read for Hispanic History Month.Title: The House on Mango Street
Author: Sandra Cisneros
The writing in this book was beautiful. It’s been a little while since I read this, but I think the author said she was specifically trying to capture a lot of emotion in sparse prose reminiscent of poetry. I’d definitely say she succeeded at that. That wasn’t entirely a good thing for me though. Objectively, I think it represented spectacular writing. However, I have a hard time slowing myself down when reading poetry. It’s easy to just fly through and that was equally true of these short vignettes. I loved reading these fictional stories based on experiences the author had or had heard about, but I think I need to re-read it slowly to appreciate it completely.Title: Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
Author: Helen Thorpe
Just Like Us was enjoyable, engaging narrative nonfiction. The stories the author told about these four young women were fascinating. Her first-person experiences lent the stories an immediacy I appreciated. Although she clearly had great sympathy for the young women she described, I couldn’t tell you her exact views on illegal immigration. She didn’t vilify Republican leaders who took tough stances on immigration, but it was clear she didn’t agree with them. She was judgmental when one of the young women got a fake ID so she could keep her job. That made wonder if her outsider perspective influenced her commentary in ways I didn’t notice as well. As far as I could tell though, she generally presented a balanced view without pushing her own beliefs on the reader. Either way, I feel like I learned a lot from this book while having fun reading it.