The Honorable Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been on several television programs this last month and it’s not for any Supreme Court hearing. It’s because of her memoir, “My Beloved World,” which has garnered much praise and is the Amazon Book of the Month for January 2013.
Much of the attention to the book may be because she is the first Latina Chief Justice and the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. That’s certainly a draw, but not the only reason I selected her memoir to read.
I was drawn to order the book because I knew there had to be a story of a struggle, tenacity, and spirit in her story.
Someone doesn’t become the first Latina or a woman judge, CEO, astronaut, or any other distinguishable career choice without more than a few bumps in the road. I was interested in reading about the journey on that bumpy road from the slums to the Supreme Court.
Like many readers, the stories that resonate with me are about people who suffer a loss, endure hardships, and rise to survive and thrive with courage and strength. This memoir certainly fit this description.
Ms. Sotomayor’s candid memoir concentrates on her childhood, college years, and life before she became a federal judge in 1992 and Supreme Court Justice in 2007.
I found the first half of the book, about her childhood and teen years, the most engaging. A few life lessons stood out which made the lengthy book a pleasure to read.
- Self reliance.
Her diabetes required insulin shots several times a day,(in an era without disposable syringes). Her father, an alcoholic, couldn’t be relied upon and her mother was overburdened. “To my family the disease was a deadly curse…my parents couldn’t pick up a syringe without panicking…” So she learned how to do this herself at age eight.
2. Value family and culture.
6. Seek to understand.
Poverty, her fathers alcoholism, her mother’s emotional detachment, racism and divorce played a part in her early life, but the reader finds that Ms. Sotomayor seeks to understand others instead of being a judge (no pun intended).
Besides the tough childhood, strenuous college and beginning years in law, the Chief Justice also divulges that she enjoys parties, asks for hugs, was a three and a half pack a day smoker, and is a “pretty good poker player… I do win regularly among my friends. I don’t think they let me win.”
It is no wonder that Ms. Sotomayor has this plaque on her office door:
The plaque says it all, but read the book to see how she made history.