Friday, March 5, 2010

In Our Mothers' House

My sister, Nancy passed Gringa ( A Contradictory Girlhood) by Melissa Hart on to me when she came down for a visit a few weeks ago.
Hart tells her coming of age story which starts early on with forced separation from her lesbian mom by the court system in California in the 1970's. " You can't grow up parented by two women. It's unnatural." This was the rationale of the court system back then.
She finds comfort in Latino culture as she tries to find her identity and tells of her desires, aspirations and vulnerabilities with total honesty (which made me laugh out loud a few times).
Melissa Hart grew up in So Cal with her father and stepmother and in Oxnard with her two mothers in the 70's and 80's and attended college in UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara , same as Nancy and I, so it was extra fun to read.
After my Tuesday Babygarten class with C, I noticed that our Studio City branch Library just got in a brand new picture book which happens to run along the same vein:
In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco is a beautifully illustrated and wonderful story celebrating an untraditional family with two mothers raising their three adopted children in "a big old brown shingle house on Woolsey Street in Berkeley, California." Marmee and Meema's house is full of love and they teach their children that different is not wrong. But one family in the neighborhood doesn't accept them because they are different: "How can a family have two moms and no dad?"
Polacco shows an amazing, unique family that lives by its own rules and one that is held together by a very special love. The story lets us watch the three children grow up into perfectly normal adults with children of their own. Marmee and Meema enjoy their grandchildren and when they grow old and pass away, they are laid to rest in a green hillside overlooking the bay "near the place where they pledged their love to each other so many years ago."
The house remains as a gatheing place for the three children and their families. "All of our hearts find peace whenever we are there, together, in our mothers' house."

Now I'll leave you with a fun clip of Melissa Hart's recipe for the California 70's Frito Boat (I forgot to add that each chapter in Gringa ends in a recipe) Good Stuff!


  1. Hi, Kim and Nancy--

    Thanks so much for mentioning my book, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood, along with the wacky book trailer. I'm so glad you enjoyed both!


  2. Hi Melissa! Yes, your book and the girlhood similarities really hit home with us. We grew up a little bit in Oxnard in the 70's too/same Breakfast Club jr. high, So Cal high school era and even the same colleges as you. We can identify ;)Love your book, it's awesome!!!!!
    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. p.s. Our family even had a VW bus that we cruised around Oxnard in the 70's!

  4. Yes, I remember the bus and funky Oxnard beach house so well. It's funny what kids remember like the candy/liquor store around the corner in Silver Strand. I hear it's still there next to the bar with the giant life-like gorilla in the window. But sadly, the gorilla is gone.

  5. Ahhh I remember the saloon-style doors on that store and the candy necklaces,old-fashioned wax candy with the nasty juice inside and those plastic fruits with sugar powder!!!!
    I think Planets of the Apes was big back then because I found a Cornelius doll washed up on the tar laden shore.........I loved that doll!


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