I read this for my book club, fully expecting it to be a ho-hum read about The Law and Big Important Political People. Not my bag, baby, you know? But it turns out Sonia Sotomayor is a ridiculously interesting person who has led a remarkable life, totally aside from being a Supreme Court Justice. Instead of focusing on her career in the memoir, which was what I expected, she instead chose to tell the story of her life with her family, from early childhood up through college and law school.
The fact that Sotomayor made it to law school in the first place is amazing. Have you read the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Well, make Francie Puerto Rican and swap the Bronx for Brooklyn and you pretty much have this story down. Hardworking mother holding the family together while the alcoholic father drinks all the money, determined daughter seeing education as her ticket out of the projects, never enough money to feel safe…yup, it’s all there. Oh, and make Francie a diabetic, in the days when type 1 diabetes was practically a death sentence. The odds against Sonia Sotomayor becoming a Supreme Court Justice – or even surviving childhood and graduating from high school – were pretty poor, yet she managed not only to succeed but to excel. In her book she never brags about her accomplishments, and even though she realizes that what she has done in her life is remarkable, she never seems to imply that she is any smarter than anyone else – just more stubborn.
To put it simply, I liked her. She’d be a great person to have coffee with and pick her brain.
I alternated between reading and listening to this – the audiobook is read by Rita Moreno and she puts so much feeling into it that you really feel like Sonia is telling you the story of her life in person, complete with a perfect Puerto Rican accent for all the Spanish words and names. If you want to read this, be sure you listen to at least part of it to really bring it to life.