Letters to My Mother by Teresa Cardenas

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The narrator of Letters to My Mother is a young Afro-Cuban girl who, when her mother dies, must live with her aunt and cousins. Dependent on them and their goodwill, she’s deeply wounded by their taunts about how dark her skin is and their attacks on her behavior in general, including her choice not to straighten her hair. Her life is often miserable as she must endure casual racial prejudice and mistreatment from those around her. To keep her mother alive somehow, and to remember that she was once unconditionally loved, she writes letters telling “Mami” what she is suffering and feeling. Over the course of this powerful and moving novel composed of these letters, the heroine comes of age. Is her inner strength sufficient to overcome her pain and the bigotry of the people in her life?

Letters to My Mother was attacked in some quarters for exposing the problem of racism in contemporary Cuban society, but it went on to win major awards.

About Teresa Cardenas

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Teresa Cardenas is Cuba's best-known author for young people and is a world-famous storyteller and dancer. She has won the Casa de las Americas prize for her novel Perro Viejo / Old Dogand Cuba's National Prize in Literary Criticism for Cartas al cielo(published as Letters to My Mother / Cartas a mi mamain North America). She lives in Havana with her two children.David Unger, originally from Guatemala, is a well-known translator, poet and novelist who lives in New York City.
Published April 21, 2006 by Groundwood Books. 96 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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She begins to menstruate, overhears her aunt having sex, befriends a white boy distressed over his mother's prostitution, and discovers that her aunt's boyfriend has sexually abused her cousin.

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