“For the thousands of nameless children who feel as forgotten as I did—this memoir is my gift to you. It’s as much for your healing as it is for my own.”
I recently watched Diane Guerrero’s interview where she talked about her family’s deportation and this sudden need in me sparked to pick up In the Country We Love. And I’m so glad I listened because I was mesmerized with it. Within these pages, Guerrero talks elaborately about everything that led up to that dreadful moment where her family was taken and everything left in its wake.
But this deeply personal memoir starts off moments before Guerrero gets home from school to find out that her whole family was deported to Colombia. Moments before a child came home to find a home with no one in it. And out of this whole situation, what messed me up most was that not a single soul in authority looked up to acknowledge her absence in their leave. She’d been completely overlooked by her government.
“Has anyone from immigration tried to contact you?” my father asked.
“No,” I told him. Not only had US Immigration and Customs Enforcement been silent, I also hadn’t received a call from Massachusetts’s Child Protective Services. At fourteen, I’d been left on my own. Literally. When the authorities made the choice to detain my parents, no one bothered to check that a young girl, a minor, a citizen of this country, would be left without a family. Without a home. Without a way to move forward. I’m fortunate that Amelia agreed to take me in temporarily, but no one in our government was aware that she’d done so. In the eyes of the ICE, it was as if I didn’t exist. I’d been invisible to them.”
With the recent elections results in America, this memoir hit home even more than I was anticipating. The first half focused mainly on Guerrero’s family and childhood and adolescence, and I loved how personal it got. I really felt like I got to know her; her hopes, dreams and fears. While the second half of the book focused on healing, forgiving, growing and Guerrero’s journey to get to where she is today.
“Through mile after mile of freeway, I recalled the years my family had spent worrying about this day, the energy we’d expended fearing my parents’ arrest. I now wished we’d set aside the anxiety, refused to let it invade our every interaction, fully enjoyed one another’s presence. Instead, we’d allowed ourselves to be robbed twice. We’d trudged through our days with our stomachs in knots, our lives on hold, our hearts in our throats—and yet our worry hadn’t changed the outcome.”
I felt everything she described in this book, from feeling mortified for asking her father to buy her bras and pads to later resenting her mother for not being there when she needed her most. I’m still reeling. And above all else, this book was educating, piercingly honest and complelty open.
“Putting my ordeal on paper has been gut-wrenching. I’ve felt vulnerable through every step of it. I’ve had to look back at moments I’d rather forget and stare into dark places.”
Also, the writing style – charming and earnest – kept me engaged throughout this book. And after everything, words aren’t enough to convey the overwhelming love and gratitude I have for Diane Guerrero after finishing In the Country We Love.
Plus, I loved the photographs just as much:“Mami and Papi looking real ’70s. Two-year-old me in Boston Commons. The British are coming! The British are coming!”“Papi and me at our favorite place in the whole world, Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts.”“Me and Papi, Mama and Vanilla Ice—(cough) I mean my big bro Eric.”
“Me and the shiny Big Apple.”“Some of the Orange Is the New Black crew and Maritza Ramos.”“Me and POTUS.”