We Had Our Reasons

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Fifteen-year-old Salvador wished to stay in school and play soccer in Mexico, but he had to drop out of school and travel illegally to the United States to work in the tile industry. Salvador did this because it was the only reasonable option he had to keep his family from starving and living in poor conditions. His is just one of many stories about Mexicans who had to look for greener pastures in the United States. We Had Our Reasons is a collection of informative and deeply poignant stories and poems about Mexican immigrants in the United States and the difficulties they face while pushing to settle comfortably in their new environment. Ricardo Ruiz creates the book in collaboration with other members of his Mexican farm community in Eastern Washington, whose stories are retold as the poems in the book. Written in both English and Spanish, the poems are followed by the biographies of the individuals they spring from.

Let me first say I’m incredibly grateful to Ricardo Ruiz and his companions. Their highly sensitive, previously untold stories gave me a different perspective about the things that really matter in life. Nine-year-old Patty didn’t care about the “things sold in a store”; she just wanted to know her father. The poems reminded me that material issues pale in comparison to being separated from one’s family and having one’s safety challenged; I learned the importance of appreciating the seemingly simple things in life.

The poems come in short, sweet packages—which makes it easy for readers to take regular breaks to ponder on them carefully. Get your highlighting pens ready because you will find several powerful, quotable lines throughout the book. I especially loved this quote, “It’s not easier to sleep with a full stomach and a guilty conscience.” As the book is a collection of different people’s stories, it contains a wide range of themes, including deportation, family, farming, gangs, drug addiction, the army, xenophobia, video games, PTSD, identity crises, and more.

Raw, candid, and arresting, the poems come from real emotions and struggles that any immigrant, no matter their original nationality or current location, will relate to. Other readers, who have never emigrated, will find that we all share a common goal of trying to make the best of life for ourselves and our loved ones. We Had Our Reasons is an awe-inspiring, award-worthy book that speaks to the human in us all, and I would be returning to it occasionally to remind myself that love for my fellow humans should be at the core of my life priorities.

Reviewed By:

Author Ricardo Ruiz
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 197 pages
Publisher Pulley Press
Publish Date 03-May-2022
ISBN 979898526322
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue August 2022
Category Poetry & Short Stories