Everyone Has a Story.
By Mary Louise Sanchez.
Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it has eaten, I am the product of all the books I’ve read—especially family-based stories. I’m particularly fond of the stories these two prolific children’s authors have written based on their families. Patricia Polacco writes stories of her Russian heritage and stories about her family in Michigan and California. Reading many of Tomie de Paola’s stories transports you to his life growing up in an Italian and Irish household. Even one of his dedications to Binney & Smith Inc. and Crayola crayons informs you about his life.
Subliminally, I’ve been inspired to show my DNA in my writing. I hope readers enjoy the nuggets of truth about my family which I sprinkled in The Wind Called My Name, especially since I am the product of people who I think led interesting lives.
Both sides of my family traveled the Manito Trail when they left their ancestral New Mexican homes. Our trail led to Wyoming where there were work opportunities. Here they found they were now the minority population. My mom’s story growing up in a Hispanic family in a small, southern Wyoming town during the Great Depression was the impetus for The Wind Called My Name. Some details from my dad’s family moving to Wyoming in the 1940s are integrated into the story too.
What fascinates me is how most people bring their cultures with them when they move. This was the case for most of the Hispanic families like mine in Wyoming who brought their rich New Mexican culture with them and passed it on to their children. Thus, this population grew up with a querencia or longing for New Mexico even if they weren’t born or raised there. I equate this to the people of the Jewish Diaspora who left Israel, but made sure Israel never left them or their children.
Naturally, my young protagonist Margarita Sandoval (my mom) has a strong New Mexican identity and hopes her new Wyoming friend Caroline will embrace her culture. But instead, Caroline questions it and sometimes unknowingly ridicules it, until both girls learn they can accept their differences as well as share their similarities.
I’ve jokingly said I should have included my maternal family tree in the book, and it really would be easy for my readers to construct one. More than family names, however, I hope readers take away from The Wind Called My Name that Margarita, a young Hispanic girl, has a story to tell, as do her parents, her grandparents, as do we all. In my office, I have a quote I reflect on as I write. Author Isabel Campo so eloquently says, “Our universe is made up of ‘vacant silences.’ There is room for seven billion stories, one written by each person in this tiny planet.” My question to you is, what is your story?
Mary Louise Sanchez is a retired teacher/librarian. The Wind Called My Name is based in part on her family history, particularly the life of her mother, who was born and raised in Fort Steele, Wyoming. The Wind Called My Name is her debut novel. A winner of the Tu Books New Visions Award, Mary Louise lives with her husband near Denver, Colorado.
Want to comment or have any questions on this article? Email us at [email protected]