cover image White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing

White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing

Jennifer De Leon. Univ. of Massachusetts, $19.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-62534-567-7

De Leon (Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From) explores her identity as a writer and a Guatemalan American in this affecting essay collection. The pieces are organized into three sections: the first, “Before,” sees De Leon push back against expectations, as in “The White Ceiling,” about taking birth control in a “mostly Catholic” culture. In the title essay, De Leon helps her father put his first résumé together and considers “what is in the white space outside the education, professional experience, skills categories, and how it is the richness of this white space that I want to explore.” Inspired, she moves to Guatemala to write and gain a better understanding of the culture that her parents left. Essays in part two capture her travels, such as “Volcán Tajumulco,” in which she hikes “the highest volcano in Central America,” and “Los Monólogos de la Vagina” which describes a performance in The Vagina Monologues. The final section, “After,” shines: the essay “Mother Tongue” explores the importance of sharing the Spanish language with her son, and “Bridged” poignantly describes the separation that education and opportunity can cause between generations. This empathetic, wide-ranging look at De Leon’s growth as a thinker is a journey worth checking out. (Mar.)