A beautifully open coming-of-age memoir by a Mexican American woman that doubles as a love letter to the tough grandmother who raised her.
Prieta is a term of endearment. When I tell people who don’t speak Spanish what prieta means—dark or the dark one—their eyes pop open and a small gasp escapes. I see the offense they feel for me sprinkled on their faces like the freckles I will never have.
How do I tell them that when I heard Ita say Prieta, I felt the caress of her strong hands on the top of my head as she braided my hair?
After the passing of her grandmother, Yasmín writes about her family’s history as a way to hold on to their memories. Yasmín does not fit in, she is not “güerita” like her sister nor does she have a conventional family, and her plans never go as expected. Her skin is darker and shows her Mexican heritage, so her grandmother calls her Prieta. While it can be an insult, when it comes from her Ita’s mouth Prieta means love, a love that helps Yasmín accept herself and her history, which is inextricably linked with the strong grandmother that helped raised her while Yasmín’s mother worked as a Customs and Border Protection officer. Yasmín admires the scars that showed who Ita was—scars from breast cancer, scars from breaking up fights, even scars she’s painted on husbands who thought they were stronger than her. The exploration of Ita takes Prieta on a journey of her own past, full of ups and downs. Bars that felt like home, rebel teenage years, trying on different dreams and career paths that eventually lead her to writing. Set in El Paso, Yasmín shares her experience in the border and how that shaped her as a person. The border city has a diversity of cultures and a sense of home she cannot find anywhere else.
¡Ándale, Prieta! shows the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter, and explores the grief of losing it. Yasmín’s experience is something that readers looking for a multicultural book can relate to. Adult and young adult readers alike can identify with her journey to find her identity and the struggle of growing up between two cultures as a Mexican American, with a story that brings comfort through the loving words of a grandmother and characters that feel like your own family. This autobiography presents a story of living on the border, first love, and the connection between women through generations.
Yasmín Ramírez is a 2020 recipient of the Woody and Gayle Hunt-Aspen Institute Fellowship Award as well as a 2018 Dickinson House Fellow. Her fiction and creative non fiction works have appeared in Cream City Review and Huizacheamong others. She is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at El Paso Community College. She stays active in the literary community and serves on the board of, BorderSenses, a literary non-profit. ¡Ándale, Prieta! is her debut.