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Publisher's Summary

From Cinelle Barnes, author of the memoir Monsoon Mansion, comes a moving and reflective essay collection about finding freedom in America.

Out of a harrowing childhood in the Philippines, Cinelle Barnes emerged triumphant. But as an undocumented teenager living in New York, her journey of self-discovery was just beginning.

Because she couldn’t get a driver’s license or file taxes, Cinelle worked as a cleaning lady and a nanny and took other odd jobs - and learned to look over her shoulder, hoping she wouldn’t get caught. When she falls in love and marries a white man from the South, Cinelle finds herself trying to adjust to the thorny underbelly of “southern hospitality” while dealing with being a new mother, an immigrant affected by PTSD, and a woman with a brown body in a profoundly white world. From her immigration to the United States, to navigating a broken legal system, to balancing assimilation and a sense of self, Cinelle comes to rely on her resilience and her faith in the human spirit to survive and come of age all over again.

Lyrical, emotionally driven, and told through stories both lived and overheard, Cinelle’s intensely personal, yet universal, exploration of race, class, and identity redefines what it means to be a woman - and an American - in a divided country.

©2019 Cinelle Barnes. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Megan D.
  • 18-12-2019

Captivating and powerful

Cinelle's essays are deeply personal and yet draw the reader into the universal truths of each experience. Her explorations of building a life in America, as a brown woman and, for a time, undocumented, and eye-opening, riveting, and critically important to read. Her narration only enhances the written word, and it is a joy to hear her voice bring these stories to life. Highly recommend.

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