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Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir

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From 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 pi From 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.


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From 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 pi From 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.

30 review for Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This was an interesting memoir about growing up in a Mexican/American family in the US with a strong mother Elvira, also called Vera. Elvira tells of being hired out with her siblings by their father as a child to pick cotton in California in Imperial Valley. A mother-daughter story where the mother has quite a history as the backbone of the family for decades in both Mexico and America. It also tells of the author, Cherrie Moraga's, journey as a lesbian in that culture as she found her voice an This was an interesting memoir about growing up in a Mexican/American family in the US with a strong mother Elvira, also called Vera. Elvira tells of being hired out with her siblings by their father as a child to pick cotton in California in Imperial Valley. A mother-daughter story where the mother has quite a history as the backbone of the family for decades in both Mexico and America. It also tells of the author, Cherrie Moraga's, journey as a lesbian in that culture as she found her voice and began speaking out and getting involved in different issues. Then there are some problems many have as their parents' age but perhaps handled in her mother’s unusual fashion at first. I found it to be an involving enough read and learned enough on a number of topics to make it worthwhile, figuring that others would like it also. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Cherrie Moraga, and the publisher for my fair review. RATING: 3.5 of 5.0 Stars Also seen on my BookZone blog: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Very touching, tears, smiles, thoughts and remembered feelings of my own Mother, stirs up many emotions, mostly Love. New insight into Alzheimer’s and what families suffer. I thank my son for the gift of this book, it truly was a gift.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    Gorgeous and so very sad.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This moving memoir tells the story of Elvira Moraga from the point of view of her daughter, Cherríe Moraga, the famous queer Chicana writer and activist probably best known for her role as co-editor of the seminal anthology "This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color," first published in 1983. Here, she leads the reader on a narrative through her mother's life that reads much like life itself is: quick and energetic at first; long and slow at the end. The story is told in Che This moving memoir tells the story of Elvira Moraga from the point of view of her daughter, Cherríe Moraga, the famous queer Chicana writer and activist probably best known for her role as co-editor of the seminal anthology "This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color," first published in 1983. Here, she leads the reader on a narrative through her mother's life that reads much like life itself is: quick and energetic at first; long and slow at the end. The story is told in Cherríe's voice; she doesn't assume her mother's. In this way, we get a kind of biography that's adjacent to an autobiography. Cherríe's own life is secondary to, yet inextricably entwined with, that of Elvira-- the mother to whom she had, like all mothers and daughters, a fraught but crucial relationship. As Elvira slides into the slow disappearing of Alzheimer's, the reader is taken along a painful and extremely moving journey through personal and cultural histories of indigenous, mestiza, MexicanAmerican women. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be picking up more of Moraga's work, as well as reading up on Native Californians and the Spanish colonization of the Southwest, which is a chapter of North American history I know too little about. Note: I received and ARC from FSG in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Octavio Solis

    This beautiful memoir of Cherríe Moraga tracks her relationship with her mother Elvira, not only through the changes that she undergoes in her heart but through the history of our collective Native soul. Unflinchingly personal in its examination of the raw wounds that we measure family by, Cherríe recounts the long troubled life of Elvira as she struggles to find her independence in a world of conflicting loyalties and allegiances. She's a stern parent, sometimes a violent parent, a warrior copi This beautiful memoir of Cherríe Moraga tracks her relationship with her mother Elvira, not only through the changes that she undergoes in her heart but through the history of our collective Native soul. Unflinchingly personal in its examination of the raw wounds that we measure family by, Cherríe recounts the long troubled life of Elvira as she struggles to find her independence in a world of conflicting loyalties and allegiances. She's a stern parent, sometimes a violent parent, a warrior coping with the collective "amnesia" of our indigenous past. And still there's love. This book drips with so much love. Even when she depicts the agonizing and debilitating effects of Alzheimer's Disease as it wreaks its havoc on her beloved mother (and the collateral damage brought on all her family), Cherríe expresses the devout and conflicted love she has for her. This memoir was an education for me, teaching me how to view the choices of our Mexican Mother, our Matriarch, through the unblinkered eyes of our "Indio herencia", preparing me for the sad palliative days that loom ahead for us all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Native Country of the Heart by Cherríe L. Moraga is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April. Despite its seemingly wishy-washy title (this is from someone who just read a book called A Song for the Stars, mind), opening this book and poring over it was like visiting and being around my maternal grandparents, as well as reading the book Borderlands by Gloria E. Anzaldúa in college. However, this is a memoir shared between the author and her mother Elvira, both in the border area between Native Country of the Heart by Cherríe L. Moraga is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April. Despite its seemingly wishy-washy title (this is from someone who just read a book called A Song for the Stars, mind), opening this book and poring over it was like visiting and being around my maternal grandparents, as well as reading the book Borderlands by Gloria E. Anzaldúa in college. However, this is a memoir shared between the author and her mother Elvira, both in the border area between California & Mexico and in South Pasadena & L.A. And, oi, it really rang true to me when Moraga described a kind of DNA denial of being distantly related to Mexican slavery and poring over the shade of your skin to cue you into being Mayan or Aztec royalty, rather than subservience, figuring out gossip & held grudges by mentally translating the mix of Spanish and English that her mother speaks (I’m totally with ya there, sister), and believing she is committing flagrant sin against the Catholic Church by having impure thought of being anything but heteronormative.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I didn't know what to expect with this book and what I got was truly a gift. Moraga's memoir of life with her mother is so heartfelt and touching that I cried more often than probably intended. There is true love within the pages of the books, along with struggles with reconciling what was and what is. As someone who has followed Moraga's career, I can't help but feel honored that she continues to write and share from her perspective as an elder, able to put into context some of the aspects of he I didn't know what to expect with this book and what I got was truly a gift. Moraga's memoir of life with her mother is so heartfelt and touching that I cried more often than probably intended. There is true love within the pages of the books, along with struggles with reconciling what was and what is. As someone who has followed Moraga's career, I can't help but feel honored that she continues to write and share from her perspective as an elder, able to put into context some of the aspects of her earlier work. While this book was focused on her relationship with her mother, with some peeks into other aspects of her life, this gives me hope that she has more stories to tell. I highly recommend this, especially if you are someone who has lost an elder to Alzheimer's disease.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    A memoir mostly pertaining to her mother, but Moraga interspersed some of her life in it as well. It was very interesting to read the span of her mother's life and snippets from her father's family. Most of the book is devoted to her mother's eventual decline and struggles with Alzheimer's and how it impacted the entire family. It's a touching telling of a woman whose life spanned many decades and who grapples with just the daily task of living. I love the cover picture. Thanks to NetGalley for A memoir mostly pertaining to her mother, but Moraga interspersed some of her life in it as well. It was very interesting to read the span of her mother's life and snippets from her father's family. Most of the book is devoted to her mother's eventual decline and struggles with Alzheimer's and how it impacted the entire family. It's a touching telling of a woman whose life spanned many decades and who grapples with just the daily task of living. I love the cover picture. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I often use the quote “this bridge called my back” so I felt compelled to read Moraga’s latest. Her writing style is not one I usually care for, but there was something beautiful here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Fancher

    Moraga tells the truest story of what it means to be family.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kari Barclay

    Bendita sea Maestra Moraga! A beautiful story of familia, colonialism, and journeys home.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Corinna

    I have always admired Cherrie Moraga. This memoir was a very personal look at her life and her relationship with her mother especially as she develops Alzheimer’s.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bárbara Nita

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cristy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Law

  16. 5 out of 5

    Y (adoredwords)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Shuart Weakley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Avery Ferin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Amen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maritza

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrea: NastyMuchachitaReads

  23. 5 out of 5

    Margot

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karla Strand

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paco

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin B

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

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