Sotomayor’s story connects the Latino immigrant experience to hallowed American institutions of learning and jurisprudence: What she’ll do with her own chunk of judicial power now that she has it, or what she thinks the law can do to improve the lives of people like her, are topics she’s apparently left for another book.
Sotomayor’s account of her gradual, determined ascent through the American educational system is filled with incidents that will sound familiar to many Latino college graduates. When she gets a perfect score on a high school math test, she’s accused of cheating. At Princeton, she endures the diatribes against affirmative action provoked by the presence of a small number of students “of color” on campus. Snarky comments about women and Latinas follow her to Yale Law School too.
Sotomayor never lets these slights go unanswered, fighting back like the tough law-geek with a chip on her shoulder that she is. “You know what I love about you, Sonia?” a fellow student at Yale says. “You argue just like a guy.” Later, as a young assistant district attorney in New York, she develops a reputation for ruthlessness. Nothing can stop her — not even Type 1 diabetes — though her ambition and work ethic eventually undermine her marriage to her high school sweetheart.
In the end, Sotomayor achieves her goal, though it comes at a cost of an enduring loneliness that perhaps unwittingly colors the book’s final chapters. My Beloved World is the record of that solitary journey, and it ends with Sotomayor donning one set of black robes, soon to be followed by others. It’s an individual achievement that stands as a landmark in the much larger, collective civic awakening of the Latino U.S.
Hector Tobar reviewed this book for The Los Angeles Times