Let me tell you something about myself. I LOVE a good biography/memoir. I have always enjoyed biographies even as a kid and since working at the library, I have developed a love of biographies on audiobook. Hearing people talk about their lives in their own voices--joy, sadness, pain, and everything in between dripping from each syllable--is the absolute best.
For Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought I would direct your attention to the Biographies for Hispanic Heritage Month collection on Overdrive. This collection is packed full of stories from across the world. From Mexico to Argentina and all the way back up to Spain, there are plenty of voices you can choose from. Here is the audiobook I listened to and the two I currently have on hold from this collection.
WHAT I READ
Rita Moreno by Rita Moreno: I absolutely adore Rita Morena (born Rosa Dolores Alverío). From West Side Story to One Day at a Time, this Puerto Rican woman has fascinated me. However, I did not know much about her life other than she was the first-ever Hispanic woman (second Hispanic in history) to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress playing the vivacious Anita in West Side Story.
Rita moved from Puerto Rico at the age of 5 to start a new life in America with her mother who was fleeing a cheating husband and small-town gossip. After living in a roach-infested, bed bug-filled apartment with 3 other families, Rita and her mother were finally able to move to their own place and start little Rosita’s career.
From there, Rita touches upon the toxicity of Hollywood, dealing with racist and sexist roles her entire career, often being cast in racially ambiguous parts where the woman was subservient to men but also sensual. This spilled out into her toxic love affair with Marlon Brando (who is just the most off-the-wall person with his own issues). Ending up in a marriage that was based on love but ultimately was a cage, Rita Moreno lays all of her triumphs and her tragedies out on the floor.
Some emotional highlights of her story for me are that one of Rita’s earliest memories is of being left at an all-white school by her mother without knowing how to speak any English after realizing her mother abandoned her 3-year-old brother in Puerto Rico. and learning that her home was full of love for her daughter and contempt for her husband. There is so much to Rita Moreno and her story and I could not recommend this audiobook more.
Trigger Warning: The book mentions obsessive love, rape, creepy men, and suicide so be forewarned, this is an intense story of one woman’s triumphs and failures.
WHAT I HAVE ON HOLD
Trejo by Danny Trejo: I have had this audiobook on hold for about a month or so and I am dying to get my hands on it! This Mexican-American currently has 409 acting credits to his name, which basically makes almost every movie I watch a game of Where's Waldo? except it's Where's Trejo? Danny Trejo just seems like a cool guy that turned a very hard life completely around and I can't wait to read his story.
Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is Philippine born but raised in the United States from the age of 12. It wasn't until his late teen years that he discovered that he was sent to the U.S. illegally. As an adult, Jose wrote for many prestigious news companies before writing an article to expose his undocumented status and show the trials and tribulations other undocumented people, such as himself, have to go through to live their lives and get by. This is one of those reads where I know it will be hard for me to get through, I honestly hate that people, especially kids, have to suffer, but I will hopefully get a better understanding of the world I live in today.
This blog was written by Jennifer L. and originally appeared October 2021.