"It is a great beauty of a book, and I am so proud of you for standing with and for the disappeared. A sister, a lover, a witness."
Mary is nineteen and living alone in Albuquerque. Adrift in the wake of her mother's death, she longs for something meaningful to take her over. Then José Luis enters her life. A refugee from El Salvador and its bloody civil war, José has been smuggled to the United States as part of the sanctuary movement.
Mary cannot help but fall in love with the movement and the man. And little by little, she begins to reveal to José Luis the part of herself she has never known. . . .
"A book that becomes more timely every day, in our present political climate, and deserves the widest possible audience for its beautiful prose and humanitarian heart."
"Demetria Martínez has pulled out all the stops: here is truth to arouse any hardened heart; here is the 'insanity' of a woman in love calling forth a revolutionary lucidity. Read it. Get angry. And act."
--Luis J. Rodríguez, Author of Always Running
Winner of the 1994 Western States Book Award for fiction, Mother Tongue tells of the love between a young, naive Mexican-American girl named Maria and Jose Luis, a Salvadoran refugee. In touching, passionate, poetic prose, Martinez pulls the reader along on Maria's journey into womanhood and never lets go. Told through letters, journal entries, a grocery list and other bits of her life's incunabula, Maria reconstructs the story of her past to let her son know how he came to be. She says, ``Once a story is begun the whole thing must be told or it kills.'' But as she pieces her story together, Maria also begins to heal herself. Until she decides to tell her story her wounds are invisible, but with her memories she peels away her outer layers until she reaches her true psychic muscle, an unsuspected inner strength as potent as that which she so admired in and craved from her lover. Few authors could master both the journey of self-discovery and the tumultuous landscape of love, politics and culture in such a brief novel, but Martinez's gentle lyricism is what makes her a master storyteller and makes Mother Tongue an unforgettable story.
This book caused countless hours of headaches and nightmares.