July 30, 2019

That's when I knew she was forever caught in her own undercurrent, bouncing from one deep swell to the next.

© Gustavo Rimada
Sabrina & Corina
Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I added this collection of short stories to my reading list after I came across this Instagram post by Latinas Poderosas, highlighting Kali's following quote: "I think our ancestors were shamed for speaking Spanish, and now I feel shame for not speaking Spanish." I felt that deeply, and my shame & frustration of not being able to speak my language fluently—despite it being my first, native language—is constant. It's hard because it feels natural to blame myself, or my parents, and each produces guilt or a feeling of inferiority, or both. It's not anyone's fault. Instead, I'm trying to face that I've internalized shame over the years, passed down from generations. Lately, I've been trying to enter more spaces that are celebratory of my Latinx heritage, and to fully embrace it shamelessly, even if I don't always feel like I "belong." A few years ago, I enrolled in an intermediate Spanish conversation class and quickly noticed a difference, so I may do that again soon.

A powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands...Sabrina & Corina is a moving narrative of unrelenting feminine power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home

The storytelling here was moving; the writing surprising and great—infused with magic and hard truths. The stories represent powerful resistance to negative patterns and the yearning to represent and be more than your past. Appreciative for how a thing can find its way to you when you need it.

"I thought of all the women my family had lost, the horrible things they'd witnessed, the acts they simply endured. Sabrina had become another face in a line of tragedies that stretched back generations. And soon, when the mood hit my grandmother just right, she'd sit at her kitchen table, a Styrofoam cup of lemonade in her warped hand, and she'd tell the story of Sabrina Cordova—how men loved her too much, how little she loved herself, how in the end it killed her. The stories always ended the same, only different girls died, and I didn't want to hear them anymore."
(from title story, "Sabrina and Cordova," p. 44)

"Her stance was wobbly and unrefined, as though she had given someone else permission to wear her skin. That's when I knew she was forever caught in her own undercurrent, bouncing from one deep swell to the next. She would never lift me out of that sea. She would never pause to fill her lungs with air. Soon the world would yank her chain of sadness against every shore, every rock, every glass-filled beach, leaving nothing but the broken hull of a drowned woman. I turned away from my mother then, heading toward the carriage house, whispering no so many times that I sounded like a cooing dove. My mother asked for more than once for me to stop. The further I walked, the further her voice moved from giddy to shrill, rising above the hibiscus and palm trees, booming off the front house and carriage house doors."
("Any Further West," p. 179)

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