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Friday, January 13, 2012

'Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream'

Last summer it was reported that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has received an advance of  $1.2 million for her upcoming autobiography. 

It is doubtful that "New York Times bestselling author" Antonia Felix received an advance like that for her book, Sonia Sotomayor:  The True American Dream, but she beat the justice to the bookstores, at least, with her "yes" biography of the first Hispanic member appointed to the Supreme Court. 

("Yes" books are those which essentially affirm everything about the subject and make for rather dour, uneventful reading and information since very little negative is included. And if this title doesn't confirm it, what does? Note to Justice Sotomayor:  If your book is still in the draft stages, please make it as objective as you can if you want to sell more copies and include at least some negatives. "Yes" books generally fail at the bookstore but your intent may be, unlike 99.9% of celebrities taking pen to paper, non-profit-motivated.)

Anyway, back to the book:  If you have any curiosity about Justice Sotomayor's background, Ms. Felix's book for information is worth a read, and it's the only one (for adults) out of the gate at this time.

For a middle-school reading level, it is well written, although in "chop chop" style (like Wikipedia or an encyclopedia) and documented with references, an index, and a list of cases.  It may be a
publisher's "author for hire" book.

Like so many books published now, the editors have gone missing.  Folks, the machines can't do it all.
 And since it's a "yes" book, it is not "fair and balanced."

Ms. Felix describes Ms. Sotomayor's life from childhood to present with as much public information the biographer could find. 

A few highlights: 
Sonia Sotomayor's father died when he was only 42, and Sonia tried to escape her sadness with books, lots and lots of them, including Nancy Drews (but not enough books to overcome her ignorance of the "classics" where, at Princeton, she was handed the wonderful self-assignment to read many of them, and she did.) (An associate professor at Virginia Tech, a high school valedictorian like the justice, with several books and articles in her repertoire, told me her (the professor's) writing suffered from a lack of reading good fiction, i.e. classics, when she was growing up, more reason to read more of them.)

Anyway, Justice Sotomayor adored the television show, "Perry Mason" which helped shape her desire at age 10 to become a lawyer, and instilled her with an appreciation for the prosecution side. 

Not until she went off to Princeton had she ever visited a bookstore, but her family had a set of encyclopedias.   (After high school, a condescending Harvard counselor's attitude led the future justice to reject Harvard. )   

When Sonia Sotomayor was only a college sophomore, she filed a successful complaint with the federal government about the dearth of Latinos on the Princeton staff.  

She attended law school at Yale and worked for five years in the New York's District Attorney's office which she left for private practice. A study of her judgeship from 1993-1998 revealed her sentences were harsher than most. Her 1994 injunction, which essentially ended the baseball strike, endeared her eternally to baseball fans everywhere, and her diabetes and gender make her work harder than men.

For her swearing in to the Supreme Court, she wore an off-the-rack suit.  

Her "distance marriage" to Kevin Noonan, whom she had dated since high school and married after she graduated from Princeton, lasted seven years. The divorce was amicable.

The book is nicely designed with a catchy cover (a photo of the justice), but some of the text is too dry for us non-lawyers.

P.S. If you, dear reader, are unhappy with President Obama in any way, just consider his choices for the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and be thankful he was in office to make them.


Antonia said...

I just came across this post, and would like to remind the blogger that far from a "chop chop" job of pasting together existing reports, my work involved in-depth interviews with 29 people to create the most substantial original material in the book. And regarding your summation of this as a "yes" book, other than the many critical issues that were discussed in her confirmation hearings--which are objectively well covered, like the rest of the content--Justice Sotomayor's life has not included any felonies or scandals that would have made this more interesting reading for you. I think it only fair to mention these points to your readers. Thanks for this opportunity to comment. AJF

Patricia Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia Leslie said...

Dear Antonia, (I had to correct a typo) thank you for commenting. I welcome your information. A check at Amazon tonight reveals your book for adults about the justice is still the only one available. I think the title for her upcoming biography is absolutely terrible: My Beloved World. So boring. I hope the content is not like the title. It looks like her editors copied your jacket.