My Broken Language: A Memoir

One World. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780399590047. $28.00. MEMOIR
With this riveting memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Hudes tells the story of attempting to find the language that best fits her, along with the languages (English and Spanish) she heard throughout her childhood. Beginning with the distant memory of her parents’ split, Hudes evocatively recalls life traveling between her abuela’s North Philly kitchen, her mother’s West Philly home, and her father’s farm in a homogenous Main Line suburb. Recollections of her mother’s and grandmother’s upbringings in Puerto Rico are rich with detail, as are depictions of aunts, uncles, and cousins who find their way in and around Philadelphia. Hudes is at her best when conveying the challenges of navigating two worlds—not feeling Puerto Rican enough to fully connect with her mother, and always feeling out of place when visiting her Jewish father and his new family. Her writing also thoughtfully details the shame and silence around AIDS, especially as it touched her family. To find solace amid grief and disappointment, Hudes turned to music and literature. The book’s powerful final chapters cover her time studying music at Yale and ultimately earning an MFA from Brown.
VERDICT Hudes has written a can’t-miss love letter, in the form of a memoir, about the people and city that shaped her.
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