Manzano, Sonia. Becoming Maria. Scholastic Press 2015 262p. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-545-62184-7 ms/hs Memoir VG
This memoir by the actor who played Maria on Sesame Street for forty years begins with her young childhood in the Bronx and continues until she reaches the age of 20 and is establishing herself professionally. In it she recounts the brutality and poverty of her childhood. Poignant, moving, and detailed, Manzano wraps the reader in the world she grew up in, the world of Nuyoricenos and sometimes scary family dynamics. I wanted to love this book because I love the author and the role she created on Sesame Street. However, I found the writing often tedious and bogged down in too much detail, the characters in her family sometimes confusing, and the action rather slow. In addition, the memoir does not really explain how she did “become Maria,” as it ends with her audition for the role. Others have suggested that perhaps another memoir is in the works, one that will carry Sonia from the age of 20 into her long career at Sesame Street and her fully reaching adulthood. This would be most welcome for those who want to know more and who were beguiled by the title of this book.
The book seems to be written for high-school students and older readers, as it uses four-letter words and does not try to water down the brutality that was sometimes evident in Manzano’s family. While it has the potential to engage readers who want to read the true story of a determined and talented young woman who started out life in difficult circumstances, one is afraid that this slow-moving narrative will not sustain interest.
Summary: This memoir by the actor who played Maria on Sesame Street for forty years begins with her young childhood in the Bronx and continues until she reaches the age of 20 and is establishing herself professionally. In it she recounts the brutality and poverty of her childhood.
Sonia Manzano-Memoir --Carol Kennedy