We Had Our Reasons: Poems by Ricardo Ruiz and Other Hardworking Mexicans from Eastern Washington
We Had Our Reasons by Richardo Ruiz was an incredible book. Written in collaboration with various Mexican farmers in his community, Ruiz shows the unique and inspiring story of each member. A book I would highly recommend to all readers, be prepared to read stories that will further your understanding of the hardships and heartaches of migration.
This collection has six poetry sections, each of which focuses on a different part of the individual’s migration stories. There is also a seventh section, which tells where these peoples are today. I have to praise the formatting of this book. I love how the sections take you through every stage of these men’s and women’s lives, not just the most dramatic and jarring moments. The first section starts with their reasons for wanting to leave, and the last section ends with stories of what these individuals do now. The format allows you to be introduced to each person individually, and then feel as though you are following them through their journeys. I also love that the book has both an English and Spanish translation. Not only does this make this collection inclusive to many more readers, but it adds a more authentic feel.
Every person’s story touched a different place in my heart, but one person, in particular, was the collaborator, Ramiro. To briefly summarize, Ramiro was able to attend school until the sixth grade when he had to stop to help support his family. When he was eighteen, he made the trek to the United States to work in the Eastern Washington fields at an apple orchard. The orchard had been sprayed with pesticide and he was told that he must not enter the field. Unfortunately, Ramiro did not heed this warning and suffered chemical poisoning so severe he almost died. The reason this story stood out to me is that I cannot even imagine the accumulation of pain Ramiro felt. To be eighteen, alone, separated from your wife and baby by thousands of miles, not to mention on your death bed within days at a new job, is terrifying, to say the least. Even after recovering from this near-death experience, Ramiro had to travel back and forth between the United States and Mexico to see his wife and family. The grief that Ramiro and all these collaborators must have experienced is tremendous, and I love how this collection captures these moments with ease.
Overall, I really enjoyed this collection and reading the stories of all the contributors. A book that is very relevant, all readers can benefit from taking the time to read these collaborators’ perspectives on migration.
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