Bird of Paradise: How I Became a Latina by Raquel Cepeda



I adore the premise of this book. The book itself is pretty amazing but I feel like the premise is what spoke to me. It’s the kind of book that is interesting while I’m reading it and then sets my thoughts on fire about my own life. Cepeda spends the first part of the book telling us her story, which is quite heartbreaking much of the time, and the second part is largely about the Latin community. It was the perfect book for Latin Heritage Month this year.

It speaks to the whole of us and the way our shared history comes from so many places. Cepeda reaches into her ancestral DNA and goes on a journey to figure out where we all come from. Okay, really it’s where her family comes from, but it’s also the Latin community. We all have this distorted and messed up past that isn’t well documented and laced in mystery and suffering but I love what she found in it. She found survival in what I consider the most unexpected way. It’s beauty amidst all the terrible things that have transpired to make us who we are.

Personally, I was late to the game in admitting that part of my identity. My mother is Cuban but I was in denial for years because I was the whitest kid at school and my dad is white. Kids at school in Miami called me a “gringa”. So when I grew up a bit and moved out of Miami, I was shocked when people called me Latin or Hispanic. It’s funny now. I understand identity issues and wanting to separate from images that may be less than ideal. I have also gone a bit down the road of discovering parts of me that I hadn’t really known I had. I appreciate Cepeda for sharing her story and journey. It makes me wish we could all do this and maybe rediscovery what our history really was.

Check it out and add to your TBR on Goodreads or Booklikes or LibraryThing.

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