by Roberto Daza
Under the sunny skies of San Francisco’s Mission district, friends, family, and longtime fans of author Malin Alegria piled into the festively decorated barbershop, The Hair Place & More, to catch a glimpse of the author and discuss the release of her newest literary endeavor at her book release party on June 10.
Wearing a cowboy-style hat with the word AUTHOR taped above the brim and a beaded necklace fashioned with Mexican flags, Alegria introduced the audience to her newest book, “Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico,” and its teenage protagonist–Sofi Mendoza.
The story follows Sofi, who while having been born in Mexico, lacks any real connection to her heritage. But this changes upon her return from one last adventure to Mexico before her high school graduation, when she learns a startling truth about her migratory status–a truth that postpones her return to the U.S. indefinitely.
Forced to live on the farm of distant relatives in rural Mexico, Sofi learns to adapt to her unfamiliar surroundings and appreciate the culture she had long ago distanced herself from.
Through her rich and developed characters, Alegria touches upon topics such as immigration, racial prejudice, love, teenage angst, and the difficulty of having to reconcile the expectations of two cultures. These elements will surely resonate with readers, especially Hispanic teenagers, who will find Sofi and the issues she deals with all too familiar.
“It comes through so strong [Alegria’s work] … she feels it, eats it, she sleeps it, she is culturally aware and strong,” said Annita Madrigal, a longtime friend and fan, “It’s nice to bring our kids something that they can relate to.”
Drawing from real life experiences for inspiration, Alegria, a Mexican-American immigrant, provides a true-to-life illustration of the Hispanic American Experience that separates her from other authors and allow for effective storytelling.
“I try to be as authentic as I can to the culture,” remarked Alegria during an audience Q & A.
As for future projects, Alegria remains unsure, but has not ruled out revisiting a mystery detective novel that she, at one point, had been working on.
For more information about author Malin Alegria and her books, visit her website www.malinalegria.com.