About Brazos Valley Reads
|Brazos Valley Reads (BVR) is a community effort organized by Texas A&M University’s Department of English with extensive support from various groups in the University and the community. The program was started in 2005 to encourage bridge building between Texas A&M’s students and staff and the Brazos Valley community at large. For the past thirteen years, BVR has invited internationally recognized authors including Geraldine Brooks, Ernest Gaines, Sandra Cisneros, Tim O’Brien, Sherman Alexie, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Julia Alvarez to College Station for a public reading and to meet with members of the community.
Want to find out about our reading selections from previous years? Visit our Previous BVR Events page to learn more about those authors and books.
This event is free & open to the public.
Joy Castro is a professor of both English and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is the author of two thrillers: Hell or High Water, winner of the 2013 Nebraska Book Award and the National Latino Book Club’s book of the month selection; and Nearer Home. She is also the author of such acclaimed nonfiction as Island of Bones: Essays and The Truth Book: A Memoir, both published by the University of Nebraska Press.
For more information about Joy Castro, please see Castro’s website: http://joycastro.com/
About Island of Bones – Winner of the International Latino Book Award for the Most Inspirational Nonfiction Book in English
What is “identity” when you’re a girl adopted as an infant by a Cuban American family of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The answer isn’t easy. You won’t find it in books. And you certainly won’t find it in the neighborhood. This is just the beginning of Joy Castro’s unmoored life of searching and striving that she’s turned to account with literary alchemy in Island of Bones.
In personal essays that plumb the depths of not-belonging, Castro takes the all-too-raw materials of her adolescence and young adulthood and views them through the prism of time. The result is an exquisitely rendered, richly detailed perspective on a uniquely troubled young life that reflects on the larger questions each of us faces in a world where diversity and singularity are forever at odds. In the experiences of her past—hunger and abuse, flight as a fourteen-year-old runaway, single motherhood, the revelations of her “true” ethnic identity, the suicide of her father—Castro finds the “jagged, smashed place of edges and fragments” that she pieces together to create an island all her own. Hers is a complicated but very real depiction of what it is to “jump class,” to not belong but to find one’s voice in the interstices of identity.
Iréne gives the wealthy businessmen what they want, diving headfirst into the filthy river, thinking only of providing for her baby daughter, Marisa, as the men salivate over her soaked body emerging onto the bank. A young boy tries to befriend the reticent younger sister of the town’s cruelest bully, only to discover the family betrayal behind her quiet countenance. Josefa, a young bride, is executed for murdering the man who raped her. Joy Castro’s How Winter Began traces these and other characters as they seek compassion from each other and themselves.
Thematically linked by the lives of women, especially Latinas, and their experiences of poverty and violence in a white-dominated, wealth-obsessed culture, How Winter Began is a delicately wrought collection of stories. The question at the heart of this riveting book is how or whether to trust one another after the rupture of betrayal.
Brazos Valley Reads 2018 is organized & sponsored by the Texas A&M English Department with additional support from:
Barnes & Noble Bookstore ⋅ Blinn College ⋅ College of Liberal Arts ⋅ Clara B. Mounce Public Library ⋅ The Eagle ⋅ Larry J. Ringer Public Library ⋅ Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research ⋅ Women’s Resource Center