Radikal Readings: Mother Tongue

One of the highest testaments I can give a book is the uncontrollable need to embrace the book after I’m finished reading – as if by doing so, I can hug it into my soul. That is the exact feeling Demetria Martinez’s Mother Tongue left me with. It’s poetic, lyrical, and sinks into you the way only a good book can.

Mother Tongue is the story of  Mary who is 19 and living alone in Albequrque after her mother’s death. She becomes involved with Jose Luis – a refugee from El Salvador who is smuggled into the U.S. by members of the Sanctuary movement, advocates for the tens of thousands of Salvadorans who have been harassed, tortured, and “disappeared” by a U.S.-supported military government. It’s a fictional story with fictional characters, but there is so much truth behind it.

Having known little of the horrors committed in the Salvadoran civil war this book was a small glimpse into it. Really it’s a gut-wrenching look into what life must be for people who have been tortured and torn from their homeland because of war.

This book is such a quick read but I found myself not wanting it to end. It’s moving and frustrating. Martinez is a beautiful writer and her depictions of New Mexico made me want to hop on a plane and explore. Good books stay with you and I foresee this will be with me for quite some time.

Song of the Day: Is This Love

It’s not summer yet, but I’m jonesing for warm weather and sunshine. No music reminds me more of that than the legendary Bob Marley. Is It Love makes me feel as if I’m laying on an island with the love of my life without a care in the world. The song is ageless and I find myself listening to it every summer, or anytime I’m wishing it was.


I was taught that justice wears a blindfold, so as not to be able to distinguish between the colors, and thus make everyone equal in the eyes of the law. I propose we remove the blindfold from the eyes of Lady Justice, so for the first time she can really see what’s happening and check out where the truth lies and the lies hide. That would be a start.

Viva the children of all the colors! Punto!

– Piri Thomas


“Life is a risky business but the alternative is to dig a hole and bury yourself. You may not know it, but I have my share of scars. And I would have them even if I had never come out of the house. Better to have scars from living than from hiding.”

Mother Tongue, Demetria Martinez

Radikal Readings: The Bad Girl


I usually take a day or two to mull over a book to gather my thoughts and opinions once I’m finished with it. However, with The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa, I did most of that while reading it, and I found myself wanting to blurt all my thoughts out before they left me. The reason for that has to do with the fact that this is one of the most confounding books I’ve read in quite a while. I found myself going back and forth whether I liked it or not, and my viewpoints of the characters were constantly changing as well.

The story revolves around Ricardo Somocurcio and the bad girl who he pursues and loves in intervals in politically charged places such as: Peru, Paris, London, Tokyo, and Madrid. I won’t go into more specifics of the plot because those are easily found as Vargas Llosa is a Nobel Prize winning author. Rather I’ll share my views.

The book is fascinating and disturbing, and there’s no denying it’s a page turner whether you agree with it’s premise or not. It challenges your views and thoughts. I found myself reading dozens of reviews when I was halfway through it because I wanted to hear other people’s opinions to compare how I was feeling about it. There were times I couldn’t wait to be done with it, but other times I was compelled to keep reading past the time I normally would.

Most of the time I hated both Ricardo and the bad girl, but never once did I feel empathy towards Ricardo. Like he laments himself, it’s his own fault for being hopelessly in “love” with the bad girl – though it’s more an obsession. And the bad girl while intriguing, is so utterly predictable. Her story line/background is unsurprising, and as horribly as she treats Ricardo, I understood her moves more than Ricardo’s (it almost pains me to write that with how awful she is, which makes the book more confounding). The graphic descriptions of their sexual relationship is also pointless and repetitive. In fact, much of the story is repetitive.

However, I did enjoy the ending, no matter how contrived, even though I could see it coming from a mile away. I also really appreciated the political aspects of each city, although they didn’t fit the narrative at all times. Llosa is a wonderful writer and his descriptions of cities are masterful, especially Miraflores (where he’s from), Paris (where he was an expatriate himself), and Madrid.

So in the end I’m still left confused. Did I like this book, or not? I still really can’t say. However, I’m sure from the write up it’s easy to tell that it got under my skin, and maybe that was really the point of it all along.