A Message from God in the Atomic Age: A Memoir

A Message from God in the Atomic Age: A Memoir

by Irene Vilar
     
 

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A razor-sharp memoir about the allure of suicide for three generations of women in one Puerto Rican family, A Message from God in the Atomic Age delves into the frightening secrets that have haunted a grandmother, mother, and daughter, alternating between Vilar's notes from the psychiatric ward and her recounting of her family history. of photos.

Overview

A razor-sharp memoir about the allure of suicide for three generations of women in one Puerto Rican family, A Message from God in the Atomic Age delves into the frightening secrets that have haunted a grandmother, mother, and daughter, alternating between Vilar's notes from the psychiatric ward and her recounting of her family history. of photos.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vilar attempted suicide with gas and razors at age 18 in 1988, while she was a student at Syracuse University in New York, where she had just arrived from her native Puerto Rico. This desperate act, she suggests in a lyrical, intense memoir, flowed from a familial pattern of self-destructiveness and tragedy. In 1954, her grandmother, militant Puerto Rican nationalist and self-styled revolutionary martyr Lolita Lebron, shot and wounded several congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives, for which she spent 27 years in prison. In 1977, Lebron's erratic daughter, Gladys Mendez (the author's mother), while suffering from uterine cancer, leaped to her death from a car being driven by her womanizing husband, as eight-year-old Vilar tried to restrain her. The author moves freely among various topics and settings: her stay in a mental hospital after her own suicide attempt; her education in a New Hampshire experimental private school and a convent school in Spain; her sexual awakening; a miscarriage; letting go of residual guilt over the death of her mother. Though rambling and tinged with emotional confusion, her compelling story introduces a fresh, pointed voice, filled with telling insights into Latino identity, Puerto Rican history and the search for self. (July)
Library Journal
Vilar came from Puerto Rico to Syracuse, New York, at the age of 15 to attend the university there. She gradually became obsessed with her mother's suicide and her grandmother's political activities promoting Puerto Rican independence. (In 1954, her grandmother, Lolita Lebrun, fired into the U.S. House of Representatives, injuring several members.) In 1988, Vilar attempted suicide and was hospitalized and treated. Here she chronicles her adolescence, experiences with psychiatric treatment, and life as a Puerto Rican, managing to bring the reader into her complex world through dense writing and references as disparate as Kierkegaard and anthropologist Oscar Lewis. She explores the dual nature of Puerto Rican American identity as reflected in her life and that of her family. A fascinating story for public library collections.Gwen Gregory, New Mexico State Univ. Lib., Las Cruces

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679422815
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/23/1996
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.17(d)

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