My Heart Lies South [ePub]

by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño

(3.5 stars) This is the story of a mixed marriage: an American woman who married into a traditional Mexican family in the 1930's.

The first half of the book left me under-impressed. The cross-cultural differences seemed clichéd and shopworn. Nothing surprised me.

Then I came to the chapter on Tia Rosa, the spinster aunt. Tia Rosa's life followed a custom I found highly unusual: the last daughter to marry *never marries* in order to take care of her mother. When the mother passes, she becomes a sojourner, traveling from house to house in these large extended families, helping with a new baby, a new widow, arthritis, a coming wedding.

What captured me was the absence of bitterness in Tia Rosa. "In Mexico, sacrifice is regarded as beautiful, never as deforming." The author claims this joy and acceptance is found across the board.

The explanation of the "Jews of Mexico" in Monterrey captured my imagination, much like the time I learned about Germans from Russia who settled in North Dakota(look it up). During the Spanish Inquisition, Jews had to choose conversion or expulsion. Many were baptized and were collectively called "New Christians." A large band of families settled in northern Mexico at Monterrey, "Jews in their blood and bones, though they all became Catholics with the passing of years. The families inter-married closely, and Monterrey is still something of an ethnic island in Spanish-Indian-Mestizo Mexico."

The crowning glory of the book was the long and detailed explanation of how to make tamales. Having experienced a day-long tamale tutorial myself, I was jubilant to have this in print. I copied pages, word for word, into my journal.

After I finished the book, I was reminded that Elizabeth Borton de Trevino wrote a favorite book of mine: I, Juan de Pareja.

04.07.2017

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