Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American
YA Memoir by Jasminne Mendez
Piñata Books, September 2022
Jasminne Mendez didn’t speak English when she started kindergarten, and her young, white teacher thought the girl was deaf because in Louisiana, you were either black or white. She had no idea that a black girl could be a Spanish speaker. In this memoir for teens about growing up Afro Latina in the Deep South, Jasminne writes about feeling torn between her Dominican, Spanish-speaking culture at home and the American, English-speaking one around her. She desperately wanted to fit in, to be seen as American, and she realized early on that language mattered. Learning to read and write English well was the road to acceptance. Mendez shares typical childhood experiences such as having an imaginary friend, boys and puberty, but she also exposes the anti-black racism within her own family and the conflict created by her family’s conservative traditions.