In Loida Maritza Pérez’s (1999) coming of age novel, Geographies of Home, the protagonist Iliana María seeks refuge from great personal, familial, and societal hardships by reading, telling, and writing stories. Early in the novel, readers learn that to overcome her harsh material conditions, Iliana María turns to literature: “The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Little Prince, The Chronicles of Narnia—books whose content was alien to her reality had been best. She learned to make up stories of her own. In time these stories evolved from fantasy into plans. Excelling in classes became her immediate goal, her school her venue for escape” (Pérez 1999, 127). Reading books “alien” to her own experiences permitted her to break through the walls of home and tradition and to imagine and pursue other courses in life, including college and writing. Like other works by Latina/o writers, Pérez’s novel points to literature as a tool of empowerment and liberation, representation and storytelling as a space of identity and community formation, and Latina/o literary critical practice as a site of discursive struggle (Belsey 1990).

This essay may be found on page 122 of the printed volume.

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