Ordinary Girls

Algonquin. Oct. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781616209131. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781643750163. MEMOIR
What does it mean to be an ordinary girl? For Díaz, everything, including remembering, “we were happy once.” Her compelling debut is one of unpredictability, recalling her family’s move from place to place in Puerto Rico, her parents always in search of a better life. Meanwhile, her abuela provided the support that her parents could not, as Mami lived with mental illness and Papi sought refuge in work. Díaz writes affectionately about the emotional toll of schizophrenia, and how Mami became adrift. In Díaz’s telling, she lost her slowly while becoming angry at the whole world—and as a result felt unmoored within it. Set against Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, the narrative follows Díaz and her family as they relocate to Miami Beach, FL, finding the promise of a richer life unfulfilled. Díaz recounts her experiences with depression, seeking comfort from friends and partners after her parents’ divorce. Powerful later chapters relate her marriage at a young age, decision to enlist in the military, and the aftermath of those choices. Her ongoing self-discovery leads her to turn to writing as a means of embracing herself and her sexuality.
VERDICT A must-read memoir on vulnerability, courage, and everything in between from a standout writer. 
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