We are so excited for our tour stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback release of Ordinary Girls by Jaquina Diaz.
About The BookOrdinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz
Published by Algonquin Books on October 29, 2019
“There is more life packed on each page of Ordinary Girls than some lives hold in a lifetime.” —Julia Alvarez
Ordinary Girls is 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 Díaz 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, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.
With a story reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Roxane Gay’s Hunger, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz delivers a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.
About the Author
Jaquira Díaz was born in Puerto Rico. Her work has been published in Rolling Stone, the Guardian, Longreads, The Fader, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and included in The Best American Essays 2016. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Kenyon Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She lives in Miami Beach with her partner, the writer Lars Horn.
How do you review someone’s life story? I had heard that this book was brutal and deserves all of the trigger warnings.
However, as someone who has loved grittier memoirs like Educated and The Glass Castle, Ordinary Girls was a raw honest story about the author’s experience growing up in Puerto Rico and then her efforts to survive with her sister on the streets of Miami.
This is not a happy story and Diaz communicate the physical and emotional turmoil with authenticity and bravery.
The timeline Diaz provides is not linear and since I listened to the story on audio, at times it was difficult to follow. Conversely, Diaz’s decision to contextualize her own story around the experiences of girls she saw in the news and such was a compelling, evocative choice.
The beauty of the title was interesting to me and, due to Diaz’s struggles it seems to serve almost sardonic in nature. Has she titled her brutal experiences as ordinary because stories like hers are far too common among girls and women are so common place that those who experience them are considered ordinary? It’s a depressing, albeit compelling thought.
Overall I gave 4/5 stars if only because I found the novel hard to follow but I would recommend it to anyone who loves grittier stories or looking to learn more about the LatinX experience.
What About You?
Have you read Ordinary Girls? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!