Monday 3 June 2013

Arana, Marie "American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood"

Arana, Marie "American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood" - 2002

I bought this book mainly because of the bilingual and multi-cultural aspect since I am always interested in this topic. We threw our children into a bilingual situation, they had to grow up with two and a half languages even though the cultures didn't clash as much.

A Peruvian/US-American family, described by the youngest daughter of the family who grew up between her father's Peruvian family who was very much into their ancestors and into FAMILY and her mother's US-American, almost non-existent family. She only saw her maternal grandparents once in her life and none of the others whereas in Peru she was surrounded by grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and a lot of other people that "belonged" to her family's estate.

Even though the story as such was interesting, I wasn't too excited about the style of writing. The story just didn't seem to flow, the author was just as much torn between two worlds in her book as she must be in real life, you have the feeling she is still trying to find her roots, who she really is and that she doesn't come to a conclusion and therefore the story goes a little higgledy-piggledy. She seems to wonder from one word to the next and never belong. So, in that respect, she has just written the right book. But it was not easy to read because if that,

From the back cover:

"In her father’s Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet in her mother’s American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken’s neck for dinner. Arana shuttled easily between these deeply separate cultures for years. But only when she immigrated with her family to the United States did she come to understand that she was a hybrid American whose cultural identity was split in half. Coming to terms with this split is at the heart of this graceful, beautifully realized portrait of a child who “was a north-south collision, a New World fusion. An American Chica.

Here are two vastly different landscapes: Peru - earthquake-prone, charged with ghosts of history and mythology - and the sprawling prairie lands of Wyoming. In these rich terrains resides a colorful cast of family members who bring Arana’s historia to life...her proud grandfather who one day simply stopped coming down the stairs; her dazzling grandmother, 'clicking through the house as if she were making her way onstage.' But most important are Arana’s parents: he a brilliant engineer, she a gifted musician. For more than half a century these two passionate, strong-willed people struggled to overcome the bicultural tensions in their marriage and, finally, to prevail.

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