Happy Tuesday! Today we have another wonderful author joining us for Smithsonian Hispanic History Month, delightful debut author Liana De la Rosa. Liana is also a first time ALBTALBS guest, so on behalf of Lime and the rest of us, welcome!
I don’t speak Spanish.
I used to be embarrassed to admit this. The questioning looks. The perplexed questions. “But if you’re a Latina…why not?”
The answer to that question is not easy or simple, but I’ll do my best to explain it. Essentially, my family assimilated.
Perhaps it wasn’t so difficult to explain after all.
My father’s first language was Spanish. He is a Nuyorican (a person of Puerto Rican heritage born and raised in New York) and when he was quite young, a set of unfortunate circumstances found him in a Catholic orphanage with his siblings. Sadly the nuns who ran the facility didn’t allow their young charges to speak anything but English, and their punishment for ignoring this rule was harsh. By the time my father was taken from that place, is there any surprise he no longer spoke Spanish?
I’m a native Arizonan, and my mother’s family has lived in what is now present-day Arizona for longer than it’s been a state. And despite their deep saguaro-like roots, my ancestors were not spared the ridicule doled out to non-English speakers by white transplants to the state. I remember asking my Nana why she never taught my mother or her siblings to speak Spanish, and she reflected on how if her and her classmates were caught speaking Spanish in school, they would be made to wear a dunce cap. She was in her seventies as she relayed this tale, and yet the mortification was still obvious on her face.
Thus the Spanish my mother learned was Spanglish (a type of slang that combines Spanish and English words) and even now, whenever she prepares to converse with a Spanish speaker, she apologizes in advance for not using the proper words.
And that apology, so often uttered with a playful smile, makes me profoundly sad. It reminds me how immigrant families are expected to embrace all tenants of their new homeland, and when they do, naturally losing parts of their culture in the process, they’re judged for it. My mother is acutely aware she’s judged for her usage of Spanglish. I’m acutely aware how my inability to speak Spanish makes me almost less than in the eyes of some Latinx people, as if my claim to my Puerto Rican and Mexican American heritage is more tenuous than it would be if I could list my family history in Spanish and English.
Just as Latinx people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so to do we celebrate our various and diverse cultures in different ways, something Hispanic Heritage Month spotlights. Speaking Spanish is an inherent part of our culture, but is not the only component. The components that matter should be the ones you deem important. For me, they include Christmas tamale making with my tias and coquito toasts. Merengue dancing followed by singing all the words to Como La Flor by Selena. It’s telling stories in English, Spanish, and a combination of both. I hope to learn Spanish one day, but I’m not letting its absence in my life keep me from embracing the heritage I’ve inherited and passing it down to my own children.
Driven into exile years earlier, due to family scandal, Declan Sinclair is called home, devastated to discover his brother has been murdered and he’s the new Duke of Darington. When clues point to the man he blames for both his exile and his brother’s death, Declan resolves to ruin the culprit. If only the daughter of the man’s business partner, lovely Lady Alethea Swinton, didn’t tempt his resolve.
Lady Alethea Swinton has cultivated her pristine reputation in the hopes of winning her father’s praise. When her childhood friend returns, Alethea finds she’s willing to court scandal and defy her father to help the handsome Declan uncover the truth behind his brother’s death. Until she realizes Declan’s redemption will mean her family’s ruin.
Bio: Liana De la Rosa is a historical romance writer whose stories are set in the Georgian and Late Regency periods. Her book, To Love a Scandalous Duke is scheduled to be released in Fall 2017 with Entangled Publishing’s Select Historical Imprint. Her writing also appears in the Avon Romance anthology, A Duke to Remember. (Which is currently free on kindle!)
Liana is a longtime fan of the romance genre, and can remember sneaking Harlequins into her bedroom to read on the sly. After her second child was born, her husband challenged her to write her own book and she’s been pulling all-nighters, slugging wine, and perfecting her craft ever since!
Liana has an English degree from the University of Arizona and enjoys cheering on her alma mater in all things (BEAR DOWN!). When she’s not writing witty heroes, saucy heroines, and secondary characters screaming for their own stories, she’s a wannabe domestic goddess and fashionista who wrangles an increasing brood of small children with her patient husband in Arizona.
Thank you, Liana, for spending time with us today! And congratulations on your debut novel!