Synopsis:Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country.There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over.
This audiobook took a little while to get through. And while I love Diane and admire her courage to speak out about her family’s citizenship struggle, sudden deportation and the huge impact it had on her life thereafter, I had a hard time connecting to this story for a really long time. It had nothing to do with the content, but rather the way in which the story was presented.
I think this has something to do with “ghostwriter” Michelle Burford and the manner in which Diane’s story was stripped of the authentic perspective from which such a personal story is delivered and placed in to this over dramatized recount you might hear in a documentary or a made for TV movie narration. It is really hard to describe but some of the vocabulary, timeline and explanations seemed to feel as though Diane (who narrates the audiobook herself) was not truly speaking in her own voice.
However, there were several moments I was able to truly connect and empathize with Diane and her story in terms of her love for school and the escape it brought her later on in life. This is where I found a strong connection to Diane as I too have always had a deeply rooted place of solace when I was in school. In Diane’s case, she describes it as a place she could not only escape to when things at home were difficult, but as the golden path to a future and life style she’s always wanted.
On top of the immigration issues and many set-backs Diane’s parents faced, she also spoke about the financial and domestic heart-ships she faced while growing up. Her parents worked long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs and under the table, just to keep a roof over their heads. The neighborhoods and apartments were not always ideal for a family of four and as Diane recalls these places, her depth of awareness even as a young child is astonishing.
As she continues on about her life, I empathized with Diane as the weight of trying to be the perfect, golden (American) daughter her parents praised her to be, school, the huge void caused by her parents absence and dire financial straits finally caused her to buckle under the pressure.
As Diane opens up about her struggle with alcohol abuse, a failing relationship and self harming all with in a manner of months following her forced departure from school. And the long journey back to finding herself after finally hitting rock bottom make extremely appreciative and honored to have heard her story.
Although I’m giving this audiobook 3.5 rating, I really did enjoy learning about her life and the impact of her parents deportation has had on her life. Diane is only four years older than I am, though I felt as if I was going through the life of someone much older. If any reader were to take anything from Diane’s story is that immigration laws have only differed slightly since her parents were taken from her, so what has happened to all the other children/teens who did not have the support Diane had when she was 14 years-old?
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my review. Be sure to check out the book yourself here.
Until the next post,