Longoria, M. (2022, May 10). Living Beyond Borders: Growing up Mexican in
America. Viking Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0593204979
In this mixed-media collection of fiction, personal essays, poetry, short stories and graphic vignettes, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today's young readers.
In this collection, 20 Mexican American authors with “some of the best and most unique voices out there today,” share what it is like to be a part of two worlds and not be accepted by either. Protagonists vary in age from middle school through adulthood and entries in the collection range from realistic fiction to fantasy. Each story is unique and highlights a wide array of lives and lifestyles that are as diverse as the regions, border towns, and generations of the writers who wrote them. Readers are encouraged to see the experiences and difficulties of what it is like to live “between” two cultures and the duality of the identities that Mexican Americans must navigate. As most of the authors are Texas Natives, several of the pieces are set in Texas or reference Texas culture and/or experiences.
The audio version of this book was the perfect way to connect to the experiences of the voices portrayed in this anthology. The narrators were cast perfectly, and their voices, accents, and pacing give the reader a connection to the stories that might not be achieved if it is read in your own voice. Alejandro Ruiz and Kyla Garcia are new narrators for me, but both have an extensive audiobook repertoire. The variety of narrative styles contribute to the appeal and the audio version is a compliment to that experience. I preferred the short stories in this compilation the most, and “La Princess Mileidy Dominguez” by Ruben Degollado is a story of heartache and emotional connections that every educator can relate to at some point. This book is YA but would be appropriate for upper middle schoolers to high school students. The selections would be a great resource to use for reflective writing or discussion about self-identity, culture, perceptions, and bias. For this book, I listened to the unabridged version on Sora. It is available on Libby and Audible as well.
This superlative collection of fiction, essays, poetry, and graphic vignettes is as varied as its contributors. The experiences portrayed in this anthology are deeply personal with sharp, heartfelt ruminations on the experience of living on the “cusp of two cultures,” as Longoria notes in the introduction. The pieces foray into the past and reflect on timeless themes like dignity, as in Guadalupe Ruiz-Flores’ “My Name Is Dolores” and Francisco X. Stork’s “Filiberto’s Final Visit,” and present a vivid picture of contemporary experiences, exemplified by David Bowles' magnificent “The Body by the River” and Rubén Degollado’s soaring “La Princesa Milady Dominguez.” The Texas–Rio Grande region is the primary setting, representing the “best of both worlds,” enlivened by Spanglish colloquialisms (chamba, carnal) and cultural superstitions. Justine Narro succinctly captures the push and pull of identity, “a place you have never stepped foot on / but call it your land” (in her poem “I Want to Go Home”), that will resonate with readers across cultures who are contemplating their own identities. Aida Salazar, Xavier Garza, Anna Meriano, and Angela Cervantes also contribute standout pieces to this memorable collection and worthy companion to other anthologized works such as Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance (2019) and Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America (2020). Grades 7-11
- Booklist Starred Review (August 2021)
· Booklist Starred Review, 2021
· Kirkus Reviews, 2021
· School Library Journal Starred Review, 2021
Similar Items You May Enjoy:
· Nopales for My Ancestors, by Victoria Alegria Rosales
· My Broken Language: A Memoir, Quiara Alegria Hudes
· The Other Americans: A Novel, Laila Lailami
Identity — An anthology of reflections that will resonate with readers across cultures who are contemplating their own identities.
Adversity — Mexican American authors share what it is like to be a part of two worlds and not be accepted by either.
· Watch – Chicano! History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement (Kanopy) and Answer Discussion Questions
· Journal about personal experiences
· Choose/Read a book that addresses something you care about.
· Creatively respond to the book you choose. Ideas – playlist, script, pictures, act it
out, write a song, etc
· Write a letter to the author