Melissa Hart's "Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood" is one of those books that makes you want to cry, and laugh, and think.
Melissa Hart has changed her name, legally, so I have no idea what her original birth certificate says her name is---and as I read about her early life, I can see why she felt it was a good idea to change it.
Also, she told a workshop at the Willamette Writers conference earlier this month this: "You should check with the people you write about in a memoir, to see if they are okay with what you have written about them. And you probably need to change the names of some of the people."
Also, she said, "You have to be willing to never see some people again. Never go to a family reunion, never be invited to a quinceanera, or a Christmas party, or anything else." In fact, she said she hadn't spoken to her father in more than 25 years, and she told us why. (I'm not going to tell that here, and she doesn't tell it in this book.)
And you can see why: This book is painfully honest, but so appealing in its honesty, and so funny at the same time, I could barely put it down. And I wanted to read more.
I bought a copy at the conference but didn't have a chance to ask Ms. Hart to autograph it for me. I couldn't get close to her, as she was being mobbed by people with questions to ask and personal stories to tell and advice to get.
That's the kind of person she is, the quality of teacher she is, and the optimistic message she gave at the conference. (Here's the conference info about her.)
Here's where you can buy "Gringa" from Amazon. Or, if you ask me, I'll give you my copy, not b/c it's not worth keeping, but b/c I want everyone who's interested to be able to read it.
And I'm going to order her other memoir, "Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family," from Amazon, and when I finish reading it, I'll write about it here, and pass it on, too.