Review: Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz

Review by Marisa K.

Overall Rating 9/10

Publishers Summary: In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age.

While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

Reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.

Review: This is a captivating book that follows a girl and her family through all the intense ups and downs of their lives as a they struggle to make it in Puerto Rico and Miami. The main character is constantly having life dump on her due to her social situation. Her parents poor decisions and health issues create so many obstacles in her life and she in turn makes her own bad decisions to cope with her situation that lead her farther down a disastrous path. But you can feel the good person that is inside her and longs to get a chance to break free. Throughout the book, you hope that she will catch the break that she needs and make the right choices to get her to the life she deserves.

Overall: A great story about the transformation of a girl and her family throughout her tumultuous life. The author does a fantastic job of bonding the reader and the main character. You root for her throughout the book and empathize for her at every pitfall.

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