Judge’s Commentary*: From the Writer’s Digest, November 2017
Coming To America An Immigrant’s Voyage a memoir, by Mary Roy
Right away, I enjoyed reading about the author’s mother, Clara, who made sure that her children went on picnics whenever the family did not have enough money to go to festivals. I admired her sewing creativity and her love for her children. The author makes the Azores Islands of Portugal sound quite idyllic, despite the hard work and poverty her family endured. I really admired the father’s method of farming. It was sad and interesting to read that sea travelers in Mary’s grandparents time still got scurvy on voyages. One of my favorite scenes was that of Mary and her sisters reading covertly at night with the kerosene lamp and not getting caught. The semi-arranged marriage with John was interesting and so was the trip to America that Mary and John made by plane. Mary’s manner of seeing almost everything in America as a miracle is quite touching. I was happy when Mary got pregnant with a boy, then a girl, followed by a little sister. It was great to read about her enrolling to get her high school degree. I liked the way Mary’s character developed in America, and I appreciated the support of both her father and Mr. Vieira. I loved the photos, especially the clipping from the newspaper showing that the author achieved her high school degree. This book is a wonderful testimony to what America offered one Portuguese family and what that lovely family brought to enrich its new country.
Northern California Award Winner First Place:
Mary Roy’s Coming to America
As a “TCK” (Third Culture Kid) who spent my years from birth to eighteen in the middle of Africa. I especially appreciated Mary Roy’s perspectives on her own childhood – a rich heritage of family, traditions, culture, and language – and the abrupt change of scenery for her at the age of eighteen.
Eighteen-year-olds entering a new country – with the prospect of remaining there the rest of their lives – are simply expected to be happy, well-adjusted people. Others rarely discern the inner psycho-social struggle that we are experiencing. Mary’s accounts of her life as an immigrant give us new appreciation of the clashes of consciousness that often remain hidden behind our attempts to appear to be just “normal” people.
Dr. H. Douglas Brown
Emeritus Professor of English
San Francisco State University
Click photo to enlarge
I was impressed with your positive attitude in spite of the struggles and heartache you endured throughout your life’s journey. Your faith and ability to accept the things you cannot change is no doubt what got you through the tough times. I also admired your tenacity and fortitude to remain true to your dreams even though it put you at odds with some of the core values that you held dear.
Most people that endured similar challenges in life have a tendency to feel or convey a sense of hopelessness and acceptance that there’s no way out. You, on the other hand, viewed these difficulties and challenges as the foundation for the person you became. In my opinion, the last paragraph is the message of your book journey.
Your book was wonderful! Loved it!!! This is the review I just left on Amazon:
This is a book that is hard to put down. Filled with emotion, love and insight, this book opens up a whole new world for anyone who has never experienced the hardships and challenges of abject poverty. And yet Mary approached her difficult childhood with joy and a maturity beyond her years. She also gives the reader an informed appreciation of the privileged life we all have, regardless of our socio-economic level, who have taken for granted our rich lives in America. I can’t wait to share this book with my friends and my grandchildren as well. Thank you Mary Roy for the gift of your story.
Anyway, I so want to see you again. Have missed you ever since New York.