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Island of Bones: Essays

4.61 of 5 stars 4.61  ·  rating details  ·  57 ratings  ·  12 reviews
What is “identity” when you’re a girl adopted as an infant by a Cuban American family of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The answer isn’t easy. You won’t find it in books. And you certainly won’t find it in the neighborhood. This is just the beginning of Joy Castro’s unmoored life of searching and striving that she’s turned to account with literary alchemy in Island of Bones.

In perso
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by University of Nebraska Press
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I have long been a fan of Joy Castro's writing, and this collection of brief essays only increased my admiration. Castro has a way of making every word and sentence count toward the whole. Her prose is lyric yet sharp, clear yet layered with exquisite metaphor. Nothing is extraneous or unnecessary. Here is a writer who manages to be poetic, political, and personal at the same time and often in the same piece. You can be astonished by her courage and openness one moment and simply impressed by he
Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
For anyone who has been through adoption or given a surname by a step parent, identity is something that is grappled with in teenaged years. Add in divorce, abuse, hunger and loneliness and you have a life which is "jagged, smashed place of edges and fragments..."

The connected essays in this memoir gave me much to think about, especially when exploring what identity means. Many times we're perceived to be someone based on our surname when that is just a bit of the whole story. For the author, th
Joy Castro captures some of the heart wrenching parts of growing up.

Most of this book doesn't read like collected essays - instead the pieces blend together and tell a story about identity and adulthood. The comparison's between the author's life growing up and life at the university are startling and wonderful. (view spoiler)

Heartfelt and insightful this
E. Ce Miller
As a baby, memoirist Joy Castro was adopted by a family of Cuban American Jehovah’s Witnesses—an early life event that, needless to say, let to a multitude of questions about identity, belonging and self. It is such questions that Castro explores throughout her memoir-in-essays “Island of Bones”; part of the American Lives series put together by University of Nebraska Press.

Each of these raw, often angry, and always inspiring essays tell a different story about Castro’s childhood and emerging a
Island of Bones (University of Nebraska Press) is a collection of essays that covers Castro’s personal life, including a horribly abusive childhood, and her career working as the rare Latina in academia in the Midwest.

The title essay examines the stereotypes people have about Latinos, such as their faith and looks. Another great essay, “Fitting,” discusses the subtle barbs of female friendships and the importance of a good spouse.

Like her novel, Castro excels when she discusses class issues. Com
Chelsea K.
W O W. I've not read much non-fiction before this, but what few expectations I did have were SO exceeded. Castro is a totally captivating writer, and you genuinely like her. As such, the things that happen to her are even more horrific (though they're so horrific on their own anyways). She lays out these essays without flinching from the truth of her past, baldly laying out her troubles unapologetically and (seemingly) without alteration of the horrible truth.

The only fault I find is in the las
I originally found Joy Castro in another anthology after reading her essay "Farm Use" which cuts straight to the bone. (It's reprinted here in this collection.) From there I sought out her memoir "The Truth Book" which fulfilled the promise of that essay. Then when I saw this book of essays at my university library, I knew I had to read it. I was afraid the book might be too academic, but the essays aren't that at all. Joy Castro is a down-to-earth accessible academic, a rare creature these days ...more
I would love to give this book to all the women in my life, young and old. Joy Castro raises questions about feminist theory and class and cultural beliefs all amid an on-going dialogue about feminism for those who live in the "real" world, "sistering" relationships, and women's ongoing self-explorations as we age, as family commitments change, and the urgency of continuing to work in the world to right injustices. She brings a unique history of adoption, childhood abuse and neglect, poverty, an ...more
Sunny Cooper
Castro's writing is spare, clean, and dry as the shell on its cover, sharply ruffled with conflict and smooth-white with innocence. Within the first two pages of reading this, I felt Castro's plumb line dropping dead center into the navy waters of the heart and the shifts of humanity. Her words lifted me from sentence to sentence like crumbs on the edge of knife. Which is a bit how I felt when I first met Joy Castro through AROHO – her eyes are quiet, dark, and piercing, as if peeling you like a ...more
holy crap.
Neliza Drew
I really enjoyed this little collection. Fascinating and inspiring. There are several I think some of my students could benefit from.
Stunning collection of essays. Reading these essays is like sitting down for coffee with a really smart, genuine friend.
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