Excerpt from a recent email I wrote to a distant relative explaining the intent behind Evangelina Takes Flight:
“The support of my family has been voluminous and inspiring, which reinforces one reason I wrote the book – to reflect the beauty of the Mexican and Mexican-American people – their love and devotion to family, generosity of spirit, rich culture and traditions.
Another compelling reason had to do with relatively few positive Latino and other diverse protagonists in mainstream books for young adults. As I wrote and developed Evangelina’s character, I hoped Latino children, in particular, would read Evangelina Takes Flight and take pride in a relatable character who overcomes extreme challenges amidst hardship and uncertainty.”
Of course, I hope everyone who reads Evangelina Takes Flight finds some level of inspiration in the book. There is much to reflect on and learn from the de León family’s plight.
So, that was the intent behind my book.
The reality is this story is coming out at a point in history when immigrants are vilified by many, with Mexicans often topping the list. Both the Kirkus and Foreword Reviews posted on this page called it out.
“Loosely based on Noble’s own grandmother’s story, this debut hits awfully close to home in the current anti-immigrant political climate.” ~Kirkus Reviews
While I didn’t design my debut novel to be political in nature, I now expect that given the strong emotions surrounding these issues, it will prompt conversation… perhaps more like one-sided bluster, or two-sided arguing. But, isn’t civil discourse, where people share their thoughts and opinions back and forth in a reciprocal manner, a critical element of any democracy? And much more constructive? Listening doesn’t mean we have to agree. It simply means we listen with the intent to understand another person’s point of view. We don’t listen with the intent to reply, refute, belittle or gain the upper hand. For the person doing the talking, the goal should not necessarily be to change the other person’s mind, as in “my idea is better than your idea”. That only shuts the other person down or inflames them enough to argue. Why not share your point of view, and let the person on the listening end, make up their own mind? Then switch roles. Everyone deserves to be heard and understood.
If Evangelina Takes Flight prompts civil discourse, it will have achieved more than I ever dreamed.
PS: For those familiar with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, this is Habit 5 all the way. I’ve taught the course for over 20 years and draw from the concepts and tools regularly, both personally and professionally.