Pura Belpre Honor winner for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and one of America's most influential Hispanics--'Maria' on Sesame Street--delivers a beautifully wrought coming-of-age memoir.
Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. Emmy award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving--and troubled. This is Sonia's own story rendered with an unforgettable narrative power. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. Each day she is glued to the TV screen that blots out the painful realities of her existence and also illuminates the possibilities that lie ahead. But--click!--when the TV goes off, Sonia is taken back to real-life--the cramped, colorful world of her neighborhood and an alcoholic father. But it is Sonia's dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. Spiced with culture, heartache, and humor, this memoir paints a lasting portrait of a girl's resilience as she grows up to become an inspiration to millions.
Manzano (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano), widely known for her longtime role as Maria on Sesame Street, chronicles her formative years in a troubled household in 1950s and '60s New York City with a voice that conveys a slow-burning audacity and the internal glimmer of lightness of a true dreamer. She invites readers into the rundown and crowded apartments and neighborhoods where she lived with her mother and her alcoholic, abusive father, both immigrants from Puerto Rico; her siblings; and a smattering of raucous extended family and friends. Though some of her vividly recounted memories are tinged with warmth and humor, many reveal dark realities of poverty and domestic violence. Manzano's coming of age is paralleled by an increasing pride in her heritage and by her witnessing the civil rights and women's liberation movements. After learning of Manzano's stressors and doubts, her hard-won victories feel downright cathartic, be it a kindness from a teacher, entrance to the High School of Performing Arts, a drama scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University, a rise on Broadway, or her fateful audition for Sesame Street. Ages 12 up.
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How wonderful to hear how a young girl frought with so many obstacles could rise above it all to become such a whimsical character to entertain an audience of children for so many years!! My children & grandchildren dearly loved "Maria", as did I.