Ordinary Girls is a book that makes me feel seen. 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, only want to hear our stories if we make spectacle of our people, or if we surrender our own voices to tell our stories in the language of the advantaged. I think this is one of the most powerful things about Ordinary Girls. Jaquira Díaz tells her painful and beautiful stories in her own voice, a voice that 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. Whole beautiful lives happen in the margins of society. Díaz illustrates the simple and overlooked truth that, if you don’t see these lives, you’re missing out on something important.
–Tina Ontiveros, Klindt’s Booksellers, The Dalles, OR