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“Maria’s perspective is powerful and vital. Years ago, when In the Heights was just starting off-Broadway, Maria got the word out to our community to support this new musical about our neighborhoods. She has been a champion of our triumphs, a critic of our detractors, and a driving force to right the wrongs our society faces. When Maria speaks, I’m ready to listen and lear “Maria’s perspective is powerful and vital. Years ago, when In the Heights was just starting off-Broadway, Maria got the word out to our community to support this new musical about our neighborhoods. She has been a champion of our triumphs, a critic of our detractors, and a driving force to right the wrongs our society faces. When Maria speaks, I’m ready to listen and learn.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda Emmy Award–winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA, Maria Hinojosa, tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis. Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who has collaborated with the most respected networks and is known for bringing humanity to her reporting. In this beautifully-rendered memoir, she relates the history of US immigration policy that has brought us to where we are today, as she shares her deeply personal story. For thirty years, Maria Hinojosa has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media. Bestselling author Julia Alvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community.” In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the south side of Chicago and documenting the existential wasteland of immigration detention camps for news outlets that often challenged her work. In these pages, she offers a personal and eye-opening account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also enabled willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today. This honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth. Once I Was You is an urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all. Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú.


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“Maria’s perspective is powerful and vital. Years ago, when In the Heights was just starting off-Broadway, Maria got the word out to our community to support this new musical about our neighborhoods. She has been a champion of our triumphs, a critic of our detractors, and a driving force to right the wrongs our society faces. When Maria speaks, I’m ready to listen and lear “Maria’s perspective is powerful and vital. Years ago, when In the Heights was just starting off-Broadway, Maria got the word out to our community to support this new musical about our neighborhoods. She has been a champion of our triumphs, a critic of our detractors, and a driving force to right the wrongs our society faces. When Maria speaks, I’m ready to listen and learn.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda Emmy Award–winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA, Maria Hinojosa, tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis. Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who has collaborated with the most respected networks and is known for bringing humanity to her reporting. In this beautifully-rendered memoir, she relates the history of US immigration policy that has brought us to where we are today, as she shares her deeply personal story. For thirty years, Maria Hinojosa has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media. Bestselling author Julia Alvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community.” In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the south side of Chicago and documenting the existential wasteland of immigration detention camps for news outlets that often challenged her work. In these pages, she offers a personal and eye-opening account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also enabled willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today. This honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth. Once I Was You is an urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all. Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú.

30 review for Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lupita Reads

    “America has always put forward a public veneer of loving immigrants and their role in this country, but in reality, the underside of immigration, the hidden hatred, and internalized oppression and silence, has made our relationship with the notion of being immigrants much more embattled; a permanent secret war of words and hatred against itself.” Something that I am relatively new to is the notion that books can give you the language to help explain an emotion or a similar experience you’ve been “America has always put forward a public veneer of loving immigrants and their role in this country, but in reality, the underside of immigration, the hidden hatred, and internalized oppression and silence, has made our relationship with the notion of being immigrants much more embattled; a permanent secret war of words and hatred against itself.” Something that I am relatively new to is the notion that books can give you the language to help explain an emotion or a similar experience you’ve been through. This idea that you can read something in a book & understand something about yourself you didn’t understand before. The negative side of my brain feels embarrassed to admit how new to this idea I am. The side of my brain that tells me I am most likely wrong about a lot of things & that I should stay quiet. Reading this book I recognized those similar negative voices I hear in my brain. Maria Hinojosa, an Emmy Award-Winning journalist details throughout her memoir all the ways in which she’s had to carve space out for herself as a Latina in mainstream media wanting to report on the untold stories of Americans that the media often wants to ignore. How often she has pushed through similar voices in order to fully step into herself and her true power. A power we all have- the ability to know who we are, where we come from & to never compromise our beliefs for anything or anyone. There are so many layers in this book. The peeling back of historical information of anti-immigration rhetoric. The peeling back of the reality of where that rhetoric has landed us as a society in our treatment & views of immigrants. How it has contributed to how out of touch most American’s are with what truly is happening right here in our nation. Maria does not shy away from any of what she has witnessed first hand as a journalist. Through her memoir, she shows us that we must remember & grapple with our history & roots.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    3.5 stars rounded up! Review to come soon. TW - sexual assault and rape - In her memoir, Maria Hinojosa chronicles her life from her entry into the United States, to becoming a successful journalist who focuses on breaking news and issues relating to immigration and the Latinx community. I had no idea who Hinojosa was prior to reading her memoir, and throughout her story, I was constantly impressed by how tenacious she is in going after what she wants, even as she struggle with imposter syndrome (v 3.5 stars rounded up! Review to come soon. TW - sexual assault and rape - In her memoir, Maria Hinojosa chronicles her life from her entry into the United States, to becoming a successful journalist who focuses on breaking news and issues relating to immigration and the Latinx community. I had no idea who Hinojosa was prior to reading her memoir, and throughout her story, I was constantly impressed by how tenacious she is in going after what she wants, even as she struggle with imposter syndrome (very relatable!). While this could have been a memoir focused entirely on her career, Hinojosa also blends in the history of immigration policy in the United States. I especially appreciated learning about Hinojosa's early career and some of the issues and events that she covered as a journalist. I didn't know about many seminal events related to Latin America and immigration that occurred in the 1980's and early 90's, so I appreciated learning more about them through Hinojosa's storytelling. Hinojosa also does not shy away from detailing her personal life, which really helped humanize her incredible story. I appreciated her honesty as she opens up about her experience of sexual assault, and the struggles she faced in her personal relationships, and as a mother. It was really eye-opening to read about her constant fear of having her Green Card taken away—it is something I could never imagine, and I valued her honesty and openness. Hinojosa also mentions some of the struggles she faced when attempting to fit in to a majority white and affluent workplace, which are especially important to consider now as many industries are coming to terms with how welcoming or safe their workplace is. While I really enjoyed reading about Hinojosa's experiences, I do think the narrative flow is a bit jumpy at times, as Hinojosa struggles to balance her personal life, career, and the historical asides that make up this memoir. At times I was confused about the timeline between events, especially when connecting her career and personal life. Even so, if you are interested in learning about journalism, immigration, or are just interested in learning about Hinojosa's life, then definitely pick this book up! There is a lot to learn here, and I am still in awe of Hinojosa's trailblazing career. Thanks to Atria and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC!

  3. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    History is written by the victors, which means we should question the version of history that has been handed down to us In Maria Hinojosa’s memoir Once I Was You she is able to tell her story while forcing us to look at the history Mexicans have had with the US. I loved that throughout the memoir she constantly shines a light on the history of the US immigration policy and how deeply unfair it is. Did you know, “When the US won the Mexican-American War in 1948, Mexico was forced to cede nea History is written by the victors, which means we should question the version of history that has been handed down to us In Maria Hinojosa’s memoir Once I Was You she is able to tell her story while forcing us to look at the history Mexicans have had with the US. I loved that throughout the memoir she constantly shines a light on the history of the US immigration policy and how deeply unfair it is. Did you know, “When the US won the Mexican-American War in 1948, Mexico was forced to cede nearly half of its territory- land that later made up California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming- for $15 million as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” … yeah, I didn’t know this either. I do not need to tell you the austerities continues to this day with how ICE is treating persons who are undocumented. To say this book is timely would be a lie because what Maria Hinojosa details in her book- as it concerns migration and the treatment of Migrants have been happening since the beginning of time. It is so important that people read books like these that forces us to look the awful history. I cannot say I have heard about Maria Hinojosa before getting this book, but in reading this blurb my interest was piqued. I love a rich memoir and that is exactly what you get with Once I Was You . Reading about the author’s journey from living in South Side Chicago to being on CNN was nothing short of inspiring. It is clear that she’s got a heart for her country -MEXICO and its people- MEXICANS and it was beautiful to see how she used her platform to create awareness and fight. I loved how Maria Hinojosa brought us into her life, pulled back the curtains and showed us her deepest hurt, what motivates her and why she continues to fight. A truly beautiful memoir that I will continue to think about for years to come. Thanks so much Atria Book for sending me this ARC, bless up!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Oscreads

    I enjoyed reading this book. It definitely has its moments and I’m grateful for the new things I’ve learned while reading this book. Full Review Coming Soon...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America by Maria Hinojosa The author of this book is a world-renowned journalist who has helped reshape the journalistic community by not standing in the shadows or the places she was directed to stay. Maria Hinojosa is fierce, hard-headed and determined to say what she thinks and to shine light on uncomfortable topics. Real happenings many would like to ignore. Not think about. Not care about. By seeking out the unheard voices, untold stories, Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America by Maria Hinojosa The author of this book is a world-renowned journalist who has helped reshape the journalistic community by not standing in the shadows or the places she was directed to stay. Maria Hinojosa is fierce, hard-headed and determined to say what she thinks and to shine light on uncomfortable topics. Real happenings many would like to ignore. Not think about. Not care about. By seeking out the unheard voices, untold stories, unseen inequity she has changed how we think over the years through her journalism. By writing this book, she has given me, a reader, the chance to see things I didn’t know had been hidden from me. She has opened a new door, changing how I think about immigration. Once I Was You pulls no punches. Maria Hinojosa says her truth fiercely and with an edge that cuts. Yet, as part memoir, this book also presents tender considerations, confessed fallibility, hard-won victories and fails that become opportunities for change. Owning her right to speak / sing / shout with the voice of and advocate on behalf of all immigrants, she also carries forward and shares with passion and persistent petition all the outrageous ways, substandard practice and cruel methods America has employed in their interactions with brown immigrants specifically, and all immigrants generally. She has witnessed these over her long career and life in America firsthand, often so close and personal that scars remain. Immigrants – tossed and tumbled - in these United States, are weary with the pain and suffering of centuries. I will re-read this book. There is much to digest, consider and compare. Some changes happen slowly, and while others are lightening fast. In some ways we gain ground for restoring respect and real civil rights, and in others we go back to medieval practices of war. Of course one book doesn’t do it. The only way to get to what’s truth, what’s real, is to hear as many voices as possible. I highly recommend this book as one such voice. A voice that urgently needs to be heard. A Sincere Thanks to Maria Hinojosa, Atria Books, and NetGalley #OnceIWasYou #NetGalley,

  6. 5 out of 5

    Esosa

    In this memoir, Hinojosa breaks down her journey to becoming an award winning journalist; her initial struggle with her identity as a Mexican American; and the heartbreaking realities of the U.S immigration crisis. I LOVED the first half of this book - I was completely hooked by Hinojosa’s story, her writing and the structure of storytelling were just so captivating to me. I also really appreciated her unbiased approach to many of the issues discussed. The immigration crisis covered in this book In this memoir, Hinojosa breaks down her journey to becoming an award winning journalist; her initial struggle with her identity as a Mexican American; and the heartbreaking realities of the U.S immigration crisis. I LOVED the first half of this book - I was completely hooked by Hinojosa’s story, her writing and the structure of storytelling were just so captivating to me. I also really appreciated her unbiased approach to many of the issues discussed. The immigration crisis covered in this book spans many past U.S governments and presidents and her demand for accountability and justice is the same throughout. In the last 100 pages or so of this book, it felt like the structure of the writing changed. The content was still very informative but the stories and people were not connecting in the same way as previous parts of the book which kind of threw me off a little. Overall though, this is a very enlightening and inspiring memoir. Definitely recommend this one if you’re interested in journalism, politics or U.S immigration studies. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    Take a listen to this podcast that discusses many relevant issues brought up in the book: https://www.inthethick.org/podcast_ep... I love listening to Latino USA and In the Thick, but this didn't quite deliver the insight into Hinojosa's career that I was hoping for in a memoir. The through line is Hinojosa's journey to America as a baby when her father, a renowned doctor, is recruited by University of Chicago to bring his expertise to the lab. The catch? He had to become an American citizen and g Take a listen to this podcast that discusses many relevant issues brought up in the book: https://www.inthethick.org/podcast_ep... I love listening to Latino USA and In the Thick, but this didn't quite deliver the insight into Hinojosa's career that I was hoping for in a memoir. The through line is Hinojosa's journey to America as a baby when her father, a renowned doctor, is recruited by University of Chicago to bring his expertise to the lab. The catch? He had to become an American citizen and give up his Mexican citizenship. There was a time when America did welcome immigrants, but even as an American, Hinojosa's father is always seen as "other" and never given an opportunity to move up in the university's hierarchy. He is never given a solid salary and instead relies on grants to fund his research. Hinojosa takes her journey as an immigrant and follows the laws that have become so divided by the current political climate. This is a fact: Reagan and George Sr. passed sweeping legislation that actually opened up immigration quotas and expanded the number of immigrants allowed in. The key? It was politically beneficial to their agendas. Once 9/11 happened, immigration became synonymous with terrorism. And that hasn't changed. I guess my take away from the book is that I know a lot more about immigration policy and the monetization of the places that hold immigrants. I also better understand the need to play to the fears of Americans that "the other" that doesn't look white is invasive and will overtake the dominant race. That's a real fear as evidenced by the toxic rhetoric of Tucker Carlson. It's hard to move away from the belief that one group is better than another: colonialism 101. Anyway, all that is to say that Hinojosa doesn't always make the strong link to her own journalism journey (which is what I was most interested to learn). I wanted to be a journalist and I wish I had been aware of Hinojosa's work when I started college. It may have changed my academic trajectory.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Immigration affects everyone! This is so vital for today's discussion on immigrants, naturalization, and what's so often lost in examination- EMPATHY! Remember we are all united as one- humanity, diversity, land of the free and home of the brave? Remember the Constitution, Democracy, and No one power Rule?! If only we can go back to normal -that time when every day wasn't centered upon one man but rather one world. While I wish this didn't discuss political agendas it cannot be explained without pol Immigration affects everyone! This is so vital for today's discussion on immigrants, naturalization, and what's so often lost in examination- EMPATHY! Remember we are all united as one- humanity, diversity, land of the free and home of the brave? Remember the Constitution, Democracy, and No one power Rule?! If only we can go back to normal -that time when every day wasn't centered upon one man but rather one world. While I wish this didn't discuss political agendas it cannot be explained without political agendas and they're vast in number on both sides of the aisle. Maria was able to hold this train of thought on a more personal level, a vibrant appeal, and emotional love fest that needed to be told. It's said for those of us who have been victimized by this system that we cannot just sit back, we cannot rest, we must tell our stories as it's in the telling that we experience, learn, grow, and change our ways. This was the case with Once I Was You because when you set aside politics, set aside profits, and you set aside the fight or flight response what do you have left? That's what we need to remember as many of these individuals being affected by the legislation including the DACA are just that-Children! Never forget we must work together. Thank you to Netgalley for this exclusive e-read copy! #LoveFest2020 at Atria Books

  9. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    Maria Hinojosa's book, "ONCE I WAS YOU: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America" is an honest, poignant, and forthright story of Maria Hinojosa's lifelong odyssey, her career as a journalist now spanning 4 decades, and the failure of America to develop a truly humane immigration policy along the U.S./Mexico border over the past century. I first became aware of Maria Hinojosa and her work 20 years ago as a National Public Radio (NPR) listener. She always brought a perspective on people, the U Maria Hinojosa's book, "ONCE I WAS YOU: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America" is an honest, poignant, and forthright story of Maria Hinojosa's lifelong odyssey, her career as a journalist now spanning 4 decades, and the failure of America to develop a truly humane immigration policy along the U.S./Mexico border over the past century. I first became aware of Maria Hinojosa and her work 20 years ago as a National Public Radio (NPR) listener. She always brought a perspective on people, the U.S., and the world largely overlooked in the conventional U.S. news media that I found intriguing and compelling. I also followed her later work as an investigative journalist with the PBS news program 'NOW.' If anything, Maria Hinojosa is representative of the type of journalist America needs more than ever nowadays, to point out our failures to live up to our democratic ideals as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution so that we can recommit ourselves to forming "a More Perfect Union", while speaking truth to power, and celebrating what is positive, life affirming, and beautiful about America. That is, its cultural diversity and its ability to embrace "its better angels" and scorn the darkness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nidia

    I received this book as an ARC through the Goodreads giveaway, my opinions are my own. ****** Maria Hinojosa is a beautiful, talented writer skillfully weaving her own history with the history of immigration in the United States. In the book Maria Hinojosa paints a vivid picture of living as an immigrant in the United States. She revels in the love and beauty that comes when immigrants from across the world come together. She fondly describes the community her family found with other immigrants in I received this book as an ARC through the Goodreads giveaway, my opinions are my own. ****** Maria Hinojosa is a beautiful, talented writer skillfully weaving her own history with the history of immigration in the United States. In the book Maria Hinojosa paints a vivid picture of living as an immigrant in the United States. She revels in the love and beauty that comes when immigrants from across the world come together. She fondly describes the community her family found with other immigrants in Chicago and later her joy over ranchera music that signaled the arrival of Mexicans in NYC. At the same time she unflinchingly relates the struggles and injustices faced by that same group then and now. It's easy to dismiss reports that are filled with numbers but Hinojosa literally adds a human element to the data. She tells the story of the actual people behind the data and so restores the humanity that systems of power have historically worked to try to strip away. I loved the addition of these stories, the happy and the tragic, showing the many dimensions of humanity and what is at stake when that common humanity is ignored. As she sets out to tell the story about her personal life and career, Hinojosa's telling of her experiences is pure, raw honesty. She lays bare the insecurities that haunted her, traumas that plagued her, and love that saved her. These portions of her book, where she is so visibly struggling with culture and career, were especially powerful for me as a first generation Mexican-American. I related strongly to the struggles with self-esteem, imposter syndrome, and the need to prove worthy of parents' sacrifices as well as of one’s heritage. To see her be so vulnerable about such an intimate part of herself, and then see her swallow her fear time and again, was SO inspiring and meaningful for me. Reading these parts of her memoir was like seeing a reflection of myself that I didn't know I was looking for. I HIGHLY recommend Once I Was You to everyone. I already know that this will be a book I return to again and again for the rest of my life. There is truly something to be said about books finding you at the precise moment you need them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alej

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3.5 for this read. I found it difficult to follow the timeline of events that correlate with Maria Hinojosa's career and experiences. I also found it challenging to compare Maria to immigrant children who are facing assault and violence at the border, since her family comes from education and her journey to America began with her father seeking a career here. A very different picture than those seeking asylum only to be placed in detention centers where more violence is inflicted on them. Howeve 3.5 for this read. I found it difficult to follow the timeline of events that correlate with Maria Hinojosa's career and experiences. I also found it challenging to compare Maria to immigrant children who are facing assault and violence at the border, since her family comes from education and her journey to America began with her father seeking a career here. A very different picture than those seeking asylum only to be placed in detention centers where more violence is inflicted on them. However, I do appreciate and value Maria's conversations surround immigration, being a woman and a Latina in a White Male driven field, and how she found a home in her husband German and NYC. I am grateful for her words and vulnerability on sexual assault, and her use of Spanish throughout the book. Her Mexican identity did deeply shape her lived experience. This book is worth reading for anyone trying to get an understanding of immigration policy in the US and how damaging it is. At one point Maria Hinojosa says anti-immigration is American, in so many words. I feel that deeply.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Once I was You,,,,no you are not a legally orphaned refugee child, Maria you never were. You entered legally with a parent who was a legal immigrant, with a professional job , not a legally orphaned child because we all know some of these children will never see their parents again,,this child did not and will never have the chance to attend an Ivy League college as you did What else do you have in common?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I first heard of María Hinojosa from listening to her podcast In the Thick, and I've always enjoyed hearing from her since then. I was excited to learn she was releasing a memoir, so I got my hands on this one as soon as I could. There are several different aspects to this book - it's a memoir blended with a historical account of US immigration, and other journalism stories. It's an intense read, and it took me a bit to read all of it. María is so honest and caring, and I appreciate that she dec I first heard of María Hinojosa from listening to her podcast In the Thick, and I've always enjoyed hearing from her since then. I was excited to learn she was releasing a memoir, so I got my hands on this one as soon as I could. There are several different aspects to this book - it's a memoir blended with a historical account of US immigration, and other journalism stories. It's an intense read, and it took me a bit to read all of it. María is so honest and caring, and I appreciate that she decided to share here story with us. CW - racism, rape, mention of miscarriage, detention center, cancer and death

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This one was really, really hard. Reliving the last several decades of abuse and atrocities perpetrated against immigrants by the US government was hard. Especially in the current political climate where it is very difficult to find any path to hope. I finished this book on the day Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The confluence of federal government immigration abuses and atrocities plus the complete and utter ineptitude of COVID response all piled on top of the end of any hope for any court p This one was really, really hard. Reliving the last several decades of abuse and atrocities perpetrated against immigrants by the US government was hard. Especially in the current political climate where it is very difficult to find any path to hope. I finished this book on the day Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The confluence of federal government immigration abuses and atrocities plus the complete and utter ineptitude of COVID response all piled on top of the end of any hope for any court protections for the marginalized or our"democracy" itself is heavy. Hinojosa rightly says that immigration is not only the story of her life but has only gotten worse and worse as she has covered it. May this be the turning point, both for our democracy and for US immigration policy. Hinojosa is a fighter of the calibre of RBG: thank you for everything you have done in your career. Si se puede.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    As a longtime fan of Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA, I loved listening to her narrate her memoir. It is a compelling and heartfelt look at her experience as a Mexican immigrant and how her family's experiences shaped her road as a writer, journalist and producer. She pairs compelling stories about her life growing up, her relationships and her career with stories and history about US immigration policies and stories from refugees and migrants to demonstrate the complex stories that each person ha As a longtime fan of Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA, I loved listening to her narrate her memoir. It is a compelling and heartfelt look at her experience as a Mexican immigrant and how her family's experiences shaped her road as a writer, journalist and producer. She pairs compelling stories about her life growing up, her relationships and her career with stories and history about US immigration policies and stories from refugees and migrants to demonstrate the complex stories that each person has that make up a migrant experience. At the end of the book, Maria read the acknowledgements and it was so clear what a collective community she has supported and been supported by. I highly recommend this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    booksandbark

    María Hinojosa knows that storytelling is political. She often writes that she wants to tell human stories, stories featuring the lives and struggles of real people. And that’s exactly what she’s done: over the course of a prolific career, she has given voice to the most marginalized among us, especially Latinx Americans. At NPR, CNN, and her own nonprofit news organization, Futuro Media, she has continually fought to tell the stories of immigrants, while facing discrimination and backlash herse María Hinojosa knows that storytelling is political. She often writes that she wants to tell human stories, stories featuring the lives and struggles of real people. And that’s exactly what she’s done: over the course of a prolific career, she has given voice to the most marginalized among us, especially Latinx Americans. At NPR, CNN, and her own nonprofit news organization, Futuro Media, she has continually fought to tell the stories of immigrants, while facing discrimination and backlash herself. In Once I Was You, however, it is her own story—as an immigrant, a survivor, and a Latina—that is on full display. Hinojosa’s memoir covers a broad swath of her life, from her journey to the United States from Mexico at three years old to her current reporting on the border crisis. Her personal story is interspersed with cutaways to U.S. immigration history. Although it often reads as a blow-by-blow of her life—her first (white) boyfriend, move-in day at Barnard College, fights with her husband—what is most compelling about Hinojosa’s story is her own struggle to tell it. While Hinojosa is a prolific and talented woman who has hustled throughout her life, balancing jobs and stories with kids and family, she recounts facing pushback at every stage in her career as a journalist. At the same time she was winning awards for her coverage of Latinx life in America with CNN, she was belittled and pushed off air in favor of younger, prettier, whiter anchors. While she was gaining national recognition for her groundbreaking radio show, Latino USA, NPR consistently tried to cancel it, and silence her voice, in favor of “less niche” shows. Her story is a stark reminder that even those who uplift and amplify the voices of the marginalized are not exempt from a culture that devalues women, people of color, and immigrants. For Hinojosa, preserving her journalistic voice meant founding her own news organization to ensure Latino USA‘s future when major media outlets refused to renew it. However, this much-needed narrative is lost in many parts of the book. Storylines about Hinojosa’s father and family, reporting on the border crisis, and strained marriage trail off or pop in seemingly out of nowhere. U.S. immigration history, too, makes an appearance every once in a while, choppily occupying the last ten or fifteen pages of a chapter that was otherwise deeply focused on Hinojosa’s personal life. The book’s title, Once I Was You, also falls a little flat: while Hinojosa positions herself in parallel to the young children detained at the border, her position as the daughter of a college professor, a documented immigrant, and a member of the middle class ensured her privileges that were never available to many of those kids. Despite its flaws, Once I Was You is required reading for anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes of intersectional, human-focused storytelling. It’s the memoir of a living legend and a trailblazer in her field. Go read it. I was honored to receive an advance review copy courtesy of the publisher, Atria Books. I am also a student at Columbia College, the sibling school of Barnard College, where Prof. Hinojosa teaches. Neither of these factors has affected my opinion of the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Park

    4.5 stars. A very interesting story told alongside history, especially important events in American Latino history. I was reminded of where we’ve been and how much further we need to go regarding racism, immigration, women’s rights, equal pay, healthcare, etc.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)

    Loved this. So important.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Review to come.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I read this back in September, and though I spent the entirety of the audiobook rapt with immense interest in Hinojosa's story— I cannot summarize it in a way that would in any way be comparable to the work itself. I highly recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in immigration to give this a read. Her words are powerful and supported by a lifetime of journalism and firsthand experience with prejudice. I gifted a copy to my Puerto Rican grandmother and she read it in just a couple of day I read this back in September, and though I spent the entirety of the audiobook rapt with immense interest in Hinojosa's story— I cannot summarize it in a way that would in any way be comparable to the work itself. I highly recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in immigration to give this a read. Her words are powerful and supported by a lifetime of journalism and firsthand experience with prejudice. I gifted a copy to my Puerto Rican grandmother and she read it in just a couple of days. I could use my hands to count how many books she's read in my recent memory and still have fingers leftover. My point is, this book meant something to her. When I spoke with my grandmother about how much she loved reading about Hinojosa, she admitted she was already going to go back and reread the first chapter. Though being born in Puerto Rico is to be an American, my grandmother still, after 50 years of living in the continental US, has a strong accent. She'd be easily picked out in conversation as Other. And Hinojosa's life, though a far different experience than my grandmother's, provides a beacon to anyone who has ever been treated as less human for living here while not outwardly appearing to be "enough" of an American. It's a lesson that unfortunately still has to be taught today: America IS for anybody, everybody. It's the hate that tries to close off a whole nation to new citizens that should have no safe place here anymore.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mellie

    Once I Was You is a must read memoir. I grew up listening to Maria Hinojosa on the radio, and most recently she has been one of my main sources for political and social updates via Latino USA and In the Thick. In truth, for a long time, it was rare to see a strong, intelligent, and fearless Latina on the news, and Maria is that rare gem. Unsurprisingly, her memoir is just as special. It seamlessly weaves her personal journey as an immigrant with the history of US immigration policy and social mov Once I Was You is a must read memoir. I grew up listening to Maria Hinojosa on the radio, and most recently she has been one of my main sources for political and social updates via Latino USA and In the Thick. In truth, for a long time, it was rare to see a strong, intelligent, and fearless Latina on the news, and Maria is that rare gem. Unsurprisingly, her memoir is just as special. It seamlessly weaves her personal journey as an immigrant with the history of US immigration policy and social movements. And, let's be honest, any Latinx identifying individual or immigrant will likely tell you, you can't really separate a personal journey from politics. Policies and movements directly and indirectly impact our daily experiences and Maria captures that brilliantly. I also appreciated her vulnerability. On the outside, I would never have guessed Maria was also struggling with self acceptance and power dynamics within her career. Yet, she too faced with many of the same emotions and obstacles women must overcome as they rise in their careers. It made me think about why some of the most influencial women can sometimes doubt themselves while in the midst of success. What part of human nature encourages this type of thinking? There are so many topics to discuss within this book and I could likely go on for a bit. So I'll leave you with this: If want to learn more about a fearless female leader, if you want to be inspired, or if you want to read something that may be out of your comfort zone I highly recommend this memoir. You will not be disappointed. (TW: sexual assault, rape, politics). Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this memoir in exchange for my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Esta Montano

    Maria Hinojosa is my absolute favorite journalist: I listen to and watch just about everything that she produces. I find her to be inspiring and down to earth. I have learned a lot from her work as she tells stories that lie outside of the mainstream. I had high expectations for this book but was a little bit disappointed. This book is not quite a memoir: Hinojosa does relate her life experiences and personal history in a compelling way that humanizes her. She relates her struggles breaking into Maria Hinojosa is my absolute favorite journalist: I listen to and watch just about everything that she produces. I find her to be inspiring and down to earth. I have learned a lot from her work as she tells stories that lie outside of the mainstream. I had high expectations for this book but was a little bit disappointed. This book is not quite a memoir: Hinojosa does relate her life experiences and personal history in a compelling way that humanizes her. She relates her struggles breaking into and remaining in her field, and reveals her status as a rape survivor. However, the book is also largely a history of the US in terms of immigration. Parts of this are interesting but much of this drags on and on so that I found myself bored and skimming through these sections. Hinojosa's writing style is unlike that of many other memoirs that I have read and enjoyed. It is more factual, (perhaps because she is a journalist rather than a novelist), and there is little imagery or other literary techniques to draw the reader in..

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sumner

    I cannot understate how wonderful, important, inspirational and meaningful this book is. It’s my story, my sister’s, my mother’s. It’s like never feeling enough and coming to terms with all the identities that we can hold has people and living our life with ganas and succeeding anyways. As a major fan of Maria Hinojosa, and avid listener to In The Thick and LatinoUSA, this book was so much more than I expected. I cried, I laughed, and I relished in her successes as if they were mine.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was a really good and interesting read. Several parts memoir and a few parts critique of our immigration system, with sharp things to say about incarceration and family separation, this is relevant and timely and just what we need as we begin to think about what immigration should look like post-Trump. Does contain description of sexual assault.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bruell

    I've always admired Maria Hinojosa, and after reading this I admire her much more. It was an interesting look at the incredible work she put in to get where she is today--both professional work and emotional work. The last few chapters dealing with immigration detention were heartbreaking. I've always admired Maria Hinojosa, and after reading this I admire her much more. It was an interesting look at the incredible work she put in to get where she is today--both professional work and emotional work. The last few chapters dealing with immigration detention were heartbreaking.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Hinojosa's "Once I Was You" is a memoir of her life from her immigration from Mexico to join her professor father in Chicago, through her education in New York to her eventual marriage and success as a journalist and media company founder. I found the first and last third of the book completely enthralling, with very compelling details about the experience of immigrating to the United States and of the immigration enforcement infrastructure that has grown--especially in the last twenty or thirty Hinojosa's "Once I Was You" is a memoir of her life from her immigration from Mexico to join her professor father in Chicago, through her education in New York to her eventual marriage and success as a journalist and media company founder. I found the first and last third of the book completely enthralling, with very compelling details about the experience of immigrating to the United States and of the immigration enforcement infrastructure that has grown--especially in the last twenty or thirty years--to control the lives of so many people caught up in it. The middle third is mostly details about Hinojosa's career steps and missteps, and the impact that these had on her marriage and personal relationships. I had to force myself through the middle, which was a bit of a slog, but it was worth it to learn about her recent work.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eylem Ozkaramanli

    Amazing memoir.... Journalists eye on immigration facts in US as well as women rights, children rights and many corruption issues..... Very powerful, saddening, eye opening and heart warming at the same time. Maria Hinojosa, is a wonderful story teller...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dc

    a massively important book. thank you maria. we have so much work to do as a nation — this book holds the blueprint of how to start. we need to start immediately.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandi Banks

    This was an insightful memoir of a Mexican American journalist growing up in the the United States. She came to US as a baby. Her father was a physician who had a better opportunity in his field in the US than in Mexico. Hinojosa seemed to be very involved in her identity as Mexican American. She sought through her career as a journalist to tell stories of the Latinx experience in the United States. Hinojosa’s struggles through both her personal and professional are related throughout the book are This was an insightful memoir of a Mexican American journalist growing up in the the United States. She came to US as a baby. Her father was a physician who had a better opportunity in his field in the US than in Mexico. Hinojosa seemed to be very involved in her identity as Mexican American. She sought through her career as a journalist to tell stories of the Latinx experience in the United States. Hinojosa’s struggles through both her personal and professional are related throughout the book are told in thorough and sensitive way.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ricki

    This memoir took a while for me to get into, but I truly learned a lot of about the state of immigration in the US.

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