I had the pleasure of being with Diana Noble at a conference recently. We hit it right off and she didn’t mind my asking a favor at our very first meeting; she graciously agreed to participate in Friend Friday! Evangelina Takes Flight (Arte Publico Press), is her first novel and not only does it tell an important story, Diana’s experience in getting published also tells and important story. Please read on!
I was honored when Kirby asked me to participate in Friend Friday! Having published my first novel, Evangelina Takes Flight (Arte Público Press) in 2017, I still consider myself a literary world rookie and appreciate the opportunity to share my story with others.
Evangelina Takes Flight, a young adult historical fiction was published in May 2017 by Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.
Its message is especially important now in our current political climate and all too common rejection and mistreatment of Latino immigrants. The National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies description sums it up nicely:
Noble’s compelling debut novel follows the life of a young Mexicana as she and her family escape the uncertainty and violence of the Mexican Revolution into a segregated Texas. It is through Noble’s deeply poetic writing and deft depiction of 1910’s Borderlands that we see the indignities of war, racism, and discrimination; but it is Noble’s humanizing point of view through the eyes of a girl that we witness the hopes, love, and dreams inherent in any people engaging in the difficulties of a diaspora. Evangelina Takes Flight bravely tackles the topic of how little dignity and acceptance the United States often affords immigrants escaping violence, an issue that continues to haunt us to this day.
I wrote the book, because I had a strong and heartfelt purpose to fulfill:
- Take readers on the journey of an immigrant family, to “feel” the experience through the perspective of a 13-year old girl
- Address the lack of positive Latinos/Latinas in young adult literature
- Share the beauty of the Mexican culture, traditions and people, as I know them, and dispel the unfounded and limiting stereotypes
I grew up in a Mexican-American household surrounded by loving, hard-working, dedicated people. My family bonds and experiences are on every page of Evangelina Takes Flight, which is loosely based on my paternal grandmother’s life. I’ll let you in on a little secret: my paternal grandmother’s name was Adelfa, so while the book is based on her, I gave the lead character my OTHER grandmother’s name – Evangelina. I though Evangelina Takes Flight sounded much better than Adelfa Takes Flight!
Another part of my story is one of perseverance in adversity, and in this case, being told over and over that my novel “wouldn’t appeal to young people” or “it’s a niche market-only book because of the Latina protagonist.”
I queried 98 agents and small publishers before I was finally offered a contract. Yes, on my 99th try! Since being published, it’s received numerous accolades: named a Junior Library Guild Selection, winner of the June Franklin Naylor Award 2018, a Tomás Rivera Award Finalist, a runner-up for the Texas Institute of Letters Best YA Fiction Award, winner of the National Association of Chicano & Chicana Studies (NACCS) Best YA Fiction Award and was named a Southwest Best Young Adult Fiction of 2017.
Any success that comes my way, I share with my loving family and friends, and most of all, Adelfa García Jacobs and Evangelina Escobar Zárate, the matriarchs behind it all.