Reading this collection of poems told from the perspectives of many Hispanic voices throughout American history, starting with Columbus’s arrival to what is now Puerto Rico, is like flipping through a family album of photographs. With each poem you get a snapshot of a moment, a place, an event, a person. Some of the voices are fictional and some are based on real people from history. This book definitely avoids the trap of telling only one story about a group of people, but as a result, it also doesn’t go into depth for any one voice.
I’m not sure how many of my students would sit down and read this book straight through just for pleasure, since it doesn’t really have a narrative feel to it. However, I think it would be an excellent choice for a history or English class to use as a way to dive into Hispanic American history and poetry. If I were a teacher, I’d have my students read the poems, then select one that spoke the most to them and do research based on that poem to flesh out the rest of the story around it. Or write a poem based on a Hispanic American figure in the modern day that mimics the style of the poems in the book.