Neat! I'm In This Amazing Anthology!
One of the best parts about 2016 for me (which in all honesty, was a year of career examination and growth without much stability) was being asked by Kelly Jensen to be a part of a feminist anthology created for teens. I am always so impressed with teenagers and young people the older I get. They are on the pulse in a way I never was--and I'm awed by their different perspectives and voice, as well as their desire to learn as much as possible. And while I'm scared of how cool and good at makeup many of them are, I'm still impressed with them. I also love the idea of being the kind of writer who can reach some of them.
I don't know how "reached" I was at a young age. I wish somebody had told me some of the things I strive to talk about now, which is why I wrote an essay about growing up Puerto Rican and white in a mostly white suburban neighborhood. I wrote about how ugly I felt, and shouldn't have felt. The essay is called Pretty Enough, and here's an excerpt:
In my teenaged years, I experienced the curiously affectionate friend- ships of girls who didn’t really understand me. They would tan in the sun after weeks spent at resorts in Jamaica or Mexico, returning to place their fading arms next to mine to compare our color. They would casually mention how dark the hair on my arms was. They would straighten my hair for me, which then “looked much better.” I would pluck my eyebrows in the middle. I would smile in every picture, even as I tried to hide my stomach and grow- ing breasts; while my friends were growing upward, I was growing outward. And if, like the Sesame Street song, one thing was not like the other, surely I was the one thing that did not belong.But man, did I try. I dressed like them. I bought the perfumes they did. I borrowed their phrases and mannerisms. I almost looked like them. But I really didn’t. I was darker, and heavier, and different. I could roll my r’s. I danced to salsa with my grandmother. I had odd ingredients in my kitchen like achiote seeds and sofrito paste from the mostly untouched international foods section of my local grocery store. I loved these girls because they were nice to me, and I loved them because they had freckles and rosy cheeks and all the other things I thought were beautiful. But we were different, and I couldn’t shake it.
“Where are you from again?” They asked me this sometimes.
“The rain forest,” I would say. And my dad is from the Bronx, I would think.
The book comes out January 24th, 2017, and you can preorder it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound now. Not only am I in it, but so are some other amazing writers and creators, including Roxane Gay, Mindy Kaling, Wendy Davis, Ashley Hope Pérez, Malinda Lo, and Laverne Cox. And! It already received starred reviews by Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly.
Needless to say, I'm excited about it, and I hope you might be too. BYE.
EDIT: It's out now! And if you want to read an interview I did with the editor of the anthology, here it is!