Wow! I mean WOW! This book really made me think. I even underlined portions of it. It is not that I found it academic, no, although it certainly has factual information in it and obviously Mario Kiefer did a terrific job of researching his work, but it is so real. I know of the life he writes about. I have experienced some of it first hand and heard of it from others. There are people just like Mateo, Julian and Lucia. Life, as they say, is a hot mess and this is one beautifully written hot mess.
Kiefer takes you on the roller coaster of life with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and tears. Sometimes it is hard to even read and yet there is an underlying current of hope that never ends. Beginning with the families first immigrants into the States in the 1800’s, this book takes you on a historical journey of one family from Mexico up into 2017. Working as itinerant farmers, having large families to help out with the work, moving from place to place until one day, one of the family members gets out and starts working inside one of the farm owner’s house. In many ways it is the story of the American dream. By the time the grandchild makes it into college, you feel like that dream has been captured.
But Kiefer delves further into their lives than just history. He writes of the sacrifices, the suffering, abuse and addiction that shows up along the way. Mama Lucia tells her children that she loves them but does so in a way that would make therapist gasp. “I love you or I wouldn’t put up with your shit.”, is her favorite way to let her children know they are loved but if you stop and really think about it, what an amazing statement of unconditional love. Somehow, through it all, unconditional love wins. For me that is a win!