Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography My Beloved World is the classic American success story. Growing up poor in the South Bronx, she narrates the numerous obstacles she had to overcome as she journeys her way through life to become the first Hispanic and only the third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
This is an intimate story, candidly told. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother carried the financial burden of supporting the family by working long hours as a nurse’s assistant. Sonia realized at an early age she was going to have to depend upon her own grit and determination to succeed in life. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 7, she teaches herself how to give her own insulin shots. Despite the poverty and hardship, Sonia grew up in a loving household with an extended family of recent Puerto Rican immigrants. Not knowing any professional role models, she first becomes enamored with law by watching the television show Perry Mason.
Sonia excelled at school, was valedictorian of her high school, and was accepted at Princeton. Her college years at Princeton, and how she adjusts to this new environment, are especially poignant. Princeton had been admitting women for only three years, so there were few female students, and even fewer Latinos in her class. She discovers that even though she is able to keep up with the academic workload, she has many gaps in her knowledge due to class and cultural background. For example, when describing how out-of-place she felt at an Ivy League University her room-mate says, “You must feel like Alice in Wonderland,” to which Sonia replies, “Alice who?” And when Sonia is informed that she is graduating summa cum laude, she has to look up the Latin phrase in the dictionary to learn she is graduating with highest honors.
After Yale Law School (where she was editor of the Yale Law Journal) Sonia worked first for the New York District Attorney, and then later on in private practice. The book ends with her appointment as a judge to the Federal District Court. I can't wait for the sequel where she describes life as a Supreme Court Justice.
My Beloved World is an inspirational book about an extraordinary life. It is a story of human triumph told with much humility. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can't say enough good things about it.