The Emmy Award–winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA 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 in this memoir that is “quite simply beautiful, written in Maria Hinojosa’s honest, passionate voice” (BookPage)
Product Code: 5872
ISBN: 9781982128661
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 368
Published Date: 08/31/2021
Availability:In stock
Price: $17.00

NPR’s Best Books of 2020
BookPage’s Best Books of 2020
Real Simple’s Best Books of 2020 readers voted one of Best Books of 2020

“Anyone striving to understand and improve this country should read her story.” —Gloria Steinem

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who, for nearly thirty years, has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media—from tales of hope in the South Bronx to the unseen victims of the War on Terror and the first detention camps in the US. Bestselling author Julia Álvarez 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. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today.

An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, 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.

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Introduction: A Letting to the Girl at McAllen Airport

1 Land of False Promises
2 How I Became American
3 Is This What Democracy Looks Like?
4 Nowhere to Hide
5 Embracing a New Identity
6 Finding My Voice
7 You Can Take Care of Me a Little
8 A Taste of the Action
9 Working Mother
10 The End of the World Will Be Televised
11 Confrontations
12 Citizen Journalist
13 The New Power of “INMIGRANTE”
14 What I Cannot Unsee
15 Trauma Inherited
16 Owning My Voice
17 Illegal Is Not a Noun
18 The Power of Standing in the Light


"A powerful memoir that doubles as an essential immigration primer.”– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Written in Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa’s honest, passionate voice, Once I Was You is, quite simply, beautiful.”– BookPage (starred review)

“Award-winning journalist Hinojosa narrates her turbulent life story as a marginalized woman with allegiance to two countries [in this] far-ranging and politically illuminating memoir [that] is also laser-focused and intimate . . . A fascinating and essential journalist's memoir.”– Booklist (starred review)

“In these times of love and hate, Maria Hinojosa’s astonishing story is medicine, healing, illumination. She swallows fear as if she were a circus performer swallowing fire. She encourages, inspires, and challenges us to find our own courage. Once I Was You is a dazzling gift she has bestowed upon us and America.”– Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“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, creator and original star of Hamilton

“I loved this heart wrenching, yet ultimately hopeful, book. Maria Hinojosa’s Once I Was You puts you in the shoes of frightened immigrant children while laying out a path from fear to success. A guide to joy and empowerment—even in the hard-knock business of journalism—this story is a must-read for anyone who ever wondered how an immigrant could possibly love an America that has always undervalued newcomers.”– Esther J. Cepeda, nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group

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