November 2019 Indie Next List
“Too often, those of us who grow up below the federal poverty line spend the rest of our lives erasing ourselves. If we manage to migrate out of poverty, we do so at a cost. The gatekeepers of academia, and of literature, often only want to hear our stories if we make a spectacle of our people, or if we tell our stories in the language of the elite at the expense of our own voices. I think this is one of the most powerful things about Ordinary Girls. Díaz tells her sad and beautiful stories in her own voice, a voice that still holds the people and the places that made her. What a gift. Growing up poor means that we are taught, every day and in a million tiny ways, that our families are wrong, our speech is ugly, our stories shameful. This is oppression and Díaz banishes it with beauty, love, honesty, and insight. Ordinary Girls is a book that makes me feel less alone in this world.”
— Tina Ontiveros, Klindt's Booksellers, The Dalles, OR
Summer 2020 Reading Group Indie Next List
“It takes a special writer to craft a memoir that’s equal parts harrowing, hopeful, clear-eyed, and emotionally acute—and that’s exactly what Jaquira Díaz has done here. She was still a child when her family moved from Puerto Rico to the slums of Miami, and she spent her teenage years negotiating a family life of addiction, dysfunction, and mental illness. Despite her experiences with crime and violence, Díaz finds solace in her friendships, strength in her heritage, and, always, a way forward. This is an utterly beautiful and vibrant book.”
— Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL
A fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Diaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico's history of colonialism, Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Diaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.