Special Blog Post by Mayra Cuevas, author of Salty, Bitter, Sweet
There are a million and one reasons why I’m lucky to have been born and raised in Puerto Rico. Its beaches, mountains, food, music, culture, people can all be described in one word: magical.
This magic is also manifested in the written word of authors like Rosario Ferré, Manuel A. Alonso, Lola Rodriguez de Tió, Julia de Burgos, Luis Palés Matos, Manuel Zeno Gandía and René Marquéz. Growing up, their work inspired my first few lines of poetry and my dreams of becoming a storyteller and author. They also offered much-needed refuge from the chaos at home, from my parents’ divorce, and a depression diagnosis during my teen years.
As I read their books, I saw myself in Afro-Antillean rhythms of Palés Matos’ Tuntún de Pasa y Grifería. The playful sway of the tu-cu-tú and the to-co-tó read like an island lullaby.
I believed Lola Rodriguez de Tió when she said we should fight for our freedom, because Cuba and Puerto Rico where “de un pájaro las dos alas”– the two wings of a bird. Always the rebel, her call to arms made my heart soar with a revolutionary pride. And to this day my eyes fill with tears when I listen to La Borinqueña, a song full of longing and hope for our patria.
I felt every bit of heartbreak in the pages of Julia de Burgos’ Río Grande de Loíza as well. Her poetry taught me the power of words to connect our hearts on the page. In the moments I sat alone with Julia’s books, we were of one mind.
I left the Island 19 years ago, but these stories have stayed with me. They were a shelter at a time of great turmoil, and for this I am grateful to these authors I’ve never met. (Most had already died by the time I was born.)
Now, as an author myself, I hope I can pass on this story-telling tradition to others. A tradition that celebrates the joys and sorrows of Hispanic people and serves as a mirror to our communities. A tradition that I am proud to be a part of.
Feliz Hispanic Heritage Month!
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mayra Cuevas is a professional journalist and fiction writer who adores love stories with happy endings. Her debut fiction short story was selected by Becky Albertalli as a New Voice in the Foreshadow YA serial anthology in 2019. She is a TV and digital producer for CNN, where she has worked since 2003. She keeps her sanity by practicing Buddhist meditation and serves on the Board of Directors of Kadampa Meditation Center Georgia. She lives in the colorful town of Norcross, Georgia with her husband, also a CNN journalist, and their cat, Felicia. She is the wicked step-mom to two amazing young men who provide plenty of inspiration for her stories. Follow her on Twitter @MayraECuevas and Instagram @MayraCuevas.
ABOUT SALTY, BITTER, SWEET:
A slow-burn romance in a cutthroat kitchen! There’s more to becoming a top chef for 17-year-old Isabella Fields than just not getting chopped … especially when the chances of things heating up with an intriguing boy and becoming a food star in the kitchen are both on the chopping block.
SALTY, BITTER, SWEET: