Barefoot Heart is a vividly told autobiographical account of the life of a child growing up in a family of migrant farm workers. It brings to life the day-to-day existence of people facing the obstacles of working in the fields and raising a family in an environment that is frequently hostile to those who have little education and speak another language. It is also the story of how, despite hunger, cold, illness, and constant discrimination, a determined family never abandoned its commitments to one another and to bettering life through hard work and the pursuit of education.
“. . . a beautifully written debut from a writer to watch.” —Publishers Weekly
"The style of Elva Treviño Hart's Barefoot Heart is spare and elegant, and her story is deeply moving. I am a teacher, and I always recognize the light of intellectual passion. Stories like Elva's must be told." —Jill Ker Conway, author of When Memory Speaks and Written by Herself
"This is a beautiful book, one many of us teaching Latino/a memoir and autobiography have long been waiting for. It is here at last, dear reader, in your hands. To be read and reread, savored to the last word. I extend a heartfelt welcome to the author and her beautiful book." —Virgil Suárez, author of Havana Thursdays and Going Under
". . . a powerful, personal story, a journey from poverty to professional success, which reminds us of both the gross inequities and extraordinary opportunities in our nation." —Daniel Rothenberg author of With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today
Hart's expressive and remarkably affecting memoir concerns her childhood as the daughter of Mexican immigrants who worked as migrant workers to feed their six children. In 1953, when she was only three, her parents took the family from Texas to work in the fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin for the first time, only to find that in order to comply with the child labor law they had to leave the author and her 11-year-old sister to board in a local Catholic school, where they pined for the rest of the family. Hart remembers other years when the entire family participated in the backbreaking field labor, driven mercilessly by Apa (her father), who was determined to earn enough money to allow all his children to graduate from high school. Apa not only achieved his goal but was able to save $2000 so that Hart could enter college, a step that led to her earning a master's degree in computer science. This account is not, however, an ordinary memoir of triumph over adversity. Instead, Hart eloquently reveals the harsh toll that poverty and discrimination took on her family--in sharply etched portraits of Ama, Hart's worn-out mother who clearly loved her daughter but was too exhausted to show it; of her brother Rudy, who refused to sit at the back of the bus because he was a Mexican; and of her teenage sisters, who struggled to keep their dignity in the muddy fields. She recalls many painful incidents in school and with childhood friends that stemmed from being Mexican in a small white Texas town. At 17, she drove her father back to Mexico to visit his family; she recalls how he suddenly changed into a happy man who felt at home with his land, his language and his people. This is a beautifully written debut from a writer to watch.
This book describes the lifetime stories of a child migrant worker who overcomes cultural barriers. Reflecting on the present path of achieving the "American Dream", Elva brings the reader back to the essence of love, truth, passion, pain, and family. Definite must read!!!