An instant American icon–the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court–tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in an inspiring, surprisingly personal memoir.
With startling candor and intimacy, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-discovery and self-invention, alongside Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
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I cannot remember being drawn into a memoir or biography as quickly and so raptly as I was with Sonia Sotomayor’s telling of her story. Not only does she paint colorful images of her family members, Sotomayor chooses shades of dark and light to tint the characters as their personalities play out in life. In fact, reality seems to jump off the page as you read of her life’s experiences growing up in a Puerto Rican community in New York.
The hurdles she would climb to achieve her successes of today were many. Beginning at age six with a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes, Sotomayor soon discovers she must learn to give herself her injections because neither of her parents seem to be able to do so for fear of hurting her. Boldly, she climbs up in a chair one morning to boil water to sterilize the syringe when her mother see what she’s doing. The mother proceeds to teach her how to light the pilot light on the gas stove to boil the water. And so begins the responsibility of being Sonia Sotomayor.
Yes, there were tensions in the Sotomayor home but in the child’s life there was one stronghold, a place of warmth and the planting of seeds of determination, her Abuelita (grandmother). Many things were learned at the feet of this strong woman. Abuelita taught young Sonia that she could be whatever she wanted to be. It didn’t take the little girl long to decide how to get where she wanted to go.
Not once was I bored, disinterested, or yawning. The life story of one of our most recently appointed Supreme Court Justices moves right along. And you have to work hard to keep pace with her. Her disappointments and her successes are found between the pages of this book, but at no point does she feel sorry for herself nor flaunt any success she might achieve. I found this woman to be someone I’d love to sit down over coffee with and chat.
(Side note: On March 11th I will have the privilege of hearing Justice Sotomayor live here in Portland, OR. Color me excited!)
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If you are interested at all in the rise of a young woman to the bench of the highest court in the land, then Sotomayor’s My Beloved World is a book you’ll want to read. Also, those who love the climb from near poverty to such successes as entering an Ivy League university and making great strides in the legal profession will find this a stellar sharing of such a life.
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Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice, was born in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954. She earned a B.A. in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979–1984. She then litigated international commercial matters in New York City at Pavia & Harcourt, where she served as an associate and then partner from 1984–1992. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–1998. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.
(Bio and image via Biographies of Supreme Court Justices)
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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Memoir, Biography
Kindle edition: 2438 KB; printed 353 pp
Source: Public library