The one book that changed my life and opened up a whole new world to me was Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. I read it my Junior year in high school while taking a Multicultural Literature class. Before this I had NO IDEA that there was a whole genre dedicated to Latino lit. And I was so overwhelmed to see so many of the traditions and, yes, even figures from my childhood it literally made me weep. Until I was around 14, my childhood was steeped in Mexican culture. Mostly thanks to my great grandmother, with whom we lived. But she passed away when I was 12, leaving behind a giant hole that I never knew was there until I read Anaya's book.
A year or so after her death, my mother and I moved away and I started at an all-English school where I think that maybe I was one of only two or three Hispanics in the upper school. My mother was busy working and all the traditional customs or events that we would participate in were left behind. My heritage and culture quietly slipped away a little more and more each day.
Until I read that book.
I never met Anaya. But when he died not long ago, I felt so deeply grieved. I think it was because of that precious gift of my past and myself that he gave to me. And today, now that both my great grandmother and mother have passed away, I feel that my connection to my culture tries to quietly slip away every day. And if it weren't for my children and my decision to continue MommyMaestra and my work writing education materials, I think I would sadly drift into the mostly white culture that surrounds me. I fight every day to hold on to the little girl who celebrated las posadas, ate authentic chalupas, received "limpias" from my 'Buelita, and wore traditional dresses to celebrate every 16 de septiembre.
So in honor of Señor Anaya, I want to dedicate today's post to his remarkable book that saved me. I've been thinking of having my older kids read it this year and watch the movie. Perhaps you'd like to do so, as well.
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There are actually two versions of the cover, but the content is the same...
And did you know it is also available in Spanish?
The Study Guide
This probably excites me more than anything else. The Study Guide Student Workbook has 114 pages and works for both public/private school and homeschool classrooms. But note: it is only available in English.
Here's another one:
Sadly, the price of the DVD has soared in the last few weeks. But you can still rent or buy it from Amazon Prime for a reasonable price:
An Interview with Rudolfo Anaya
Here's a few fabulous interviews with the author...