THE NOISE OF INFINITE LONGING: A Memoir of a Family—and an Island
Torregrosa's memoir, framed by and interspersed with events around her mother's funeral in 1994, opens as she and her five siblings gather for the first time in 15 years. Torregrosa, a New York Times editor, peels away the layered memories of siblings of different ages, revealing a complex portrait of the family and the island they grew up on in the 1950s. The life in Puerto Rico she describes is one of high status, privilege and isolation from those with neither. The family, assiduously rooted in Spain rather than Puerto Rico, was always comfortable, usually wealthy. Her grandmother was brought up by governesses and tutors; her mother, a lawyer, was formerly a cheerleader and sorority queen who rode horses and played the piano; and her father had the "ambition of the hard-born," but an acceptably Spanish genealogy. Reconstructing the pleasant picture, however, reveals an indulgent father with a violent temper and a mother "trapped by tradition and her own fantasies of romance." In this highly stratified world, where family members left Puerto Rico not to seek fortunes but to study abroad and obtain Ivy League degrees, a brother's marriage to a Nuyorican was a sort of disgrace. As Torregrosa's memoir reaches deeper than the beautiful island and her idyllic past, it becomes a coming-out story, as she leaves behind a repressive class structure, a racist orientation and a required heterosexuality. Torregrosa's deft, vivid characterizations capture a multigenerational cast, and her keen sense of sound and scene makes this a moving, believable and fresh story of growing up Puerto Rican and being American. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Mar. 5)
Forecast: Author appearances in New York and Puerto Rico should help Torregrosa's memoir reach Latinas, and HarperCollins will publish an accompanying reading group guide.