I listened to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir My Beloved World on audio book at 1.5 speed, which is helping me get over the hump of feeling like audio books are taking too long. The conversational writing style of the book really lent itself to the audiobook format, and listening to it fast made the frequent Spanish segments sound awesome!
I know that reading a memoir is not a very detailed way to get a grasp of someone’s jurisprudence, and Sotomayor says up front that the book is not meant to examine her judicial views. However, I think it’s helpful to gain an understanding of where someone is coming from even before you try to unpack what they think about bigger questions of law and policy.
Sotomayor’s life story is fascinating and inspiring. Born to Puerto Rican parents who didn’t have much education or English, growing up in the projects of the South Bronx with heroin users in the stairwells, confronting violence and roadblocks all along the way, Sotomayor nonetheless worked hard, went to Princeton for undergrad and Yale for law school, and won honors and accolades everywhere she went. I loved how the book showed Sotomayor’s love for her country and appreciation for her opportunities, along with her determination to help others achieve. This is a woman who could easily have grown up with a chip on her shoulder, but instead she worked hard and did not repay evil for evil.
I especially enjoyed the chapters that talked about how she made her college decision and how she fared at Princeton. Although Sotomayor was one of the first women at Princeton, her friend’s comment “Three guys for every girl and I can’t get a date?! What’s wrong with this picture!?!” was not that dissimilar to my own experience. 🙂
The memoir handles subjects such as affirmative action, race, justice, and compassion in a thought-provoking way. Even if you disagree with Sotomayor’s conclusions, reading this book will give you more nuanced understanding of how she came to her positions.
If you decide to listen to the book, I’ll warn you that there are a few parts that are probably not what you want your children to hear. Since I listen to audio books while I’m cooking and cleaning now, my kids are often in and out so I have gotten good and rushing to pause when a difficult subject is coming up. You can usually hear these coming in this book, but I wanted to mention it in case that impacts when/where you listen.
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