Ana Silvani’s book ‘Half Love, Meta(de) Amor’ mirrors many of the issues that affect immigrants and first-generation people. The bonds between oneself and our ancestral homes are tethered in a rat’s nest that sometimes takes a lifetime to somewhat understand and unravel.

Trapped at crossroads in one’s psyche, Silvani touches on the struggle of wanting to live a successful life, finding love, and the guilt that comes with the want to be successful.

Most people have an idea of what their own personal happiness looks like. No two people have the exact same idea of happiness, but everyone is in pursuit of it. Happiness is an ever-fluid concept changing based on your life experiences and personal dilemmas. It is up to each individual to find what makes them happy even if it ruffles feathers in their circles. However, sometimes being happy comes with the burden of guilt, especially if you’re from the Latinx community.

Why guilt?

A common issue first-generation Latinx people face is guilt. Many within the Latinx community feel guilt for leaving their families to grow. This can be as small as leaving for college to immigrating to another country in search of a better quality of life.

You're taught that everything you do reflects on your family. While you may be leaving to pursue something better, there is guilt for leaving your family because you have a responsibility in your home. Leaving can be interpreted as abandonment or even a flat-out rebellion. Sometimes, it also means never seeing your family again due to financial or political circumstances beyond your control. All these things could weigh heavily on the mind of people who choose to immigrate.

Once in America, there is a culture shock that many have to navigate. A struggle that many people wrestle with is that in America, you’re taught to not care about anyone to the point where it’s, for lack of a better term, sociopathic, making them void of empathy. American Individualism contradicts what you’re culturally taught at home: to be considerate to those around you. You’re eventually conditioned to be okay with potentially murdering people because you don't want to do things because it’s an “inconvenience” and “you just want to live your life and have fun”. However, this is not to say that Latinx communities are holy beacons of basic human decency. In Latinx communities, you’re trained to take physical and/or mental abuse to keep the peace within your familial circles, which is extremely problematic in its own right.

By making this sacrifice, you must wrestle with the aftermath of the decision to leave your family and the new, sometimes scarier reality of being all alone and no one caring about you unless you have some sort of value to them. It’s a dystopian nightmare that thrives on ripping apart the psyche and morality of any individual.

There is a beacon of light amidst the chaos. While there is trauma from leaving, it is important to keep in mind this is for the best. In many cases, leaving opens loved ones to more opportunities because there is now a path for them to follow. It can also mean having the opportunity to support them from abroad if in a financial position to do so at some point in life. This all depends on individual relationships; however, it doesn’t change the fact that love for oneself is at the core of the decision to leave. The choice to chase aspirations is a choice that is difficult to make, but it is one made with love as the central focus. It is important to keep love at the center of decisions because voluntary exile opens doors to new possibilities.

Find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in this journey by picking up a copy of Half Love, Metade Amor today and join us on Friday, August 19th at 7 pm at Barnes and Noble The Grove at Farmers Market for the Latinx Author’s Panel.

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Is my writing good enough? Will my readers understand what I’m trying to convey? Am I engaging? These are all parts of my own internal monologue when I’m trying to write something I remotely care about.

Sleepless nights filled with the silence from playlists that have long played out as I grumble with my head in my hands, frustrated with my current inability to put pen to paper are common. With so many thoughts running through my head, I find it difficult to focus on creating a linear story, so what do I do? I write everything down.

When it comes to writing, I take some notes from songwriter, rapper, and author Tablo. He’s stated that carrying something to write down sparks of inspiration helps him when he has to sit down and write music. This, too, has helped me in my own writing. I write down any little thought that remotely piques my interest. I may or may not use it, but it’s a spark of inspiration. It’s an idea that’s worth exploring, maybe not now, maybe later. The important thing to remember is that anything that sparks inspiration is worth exploring at some point.

Applying this to writing full-fledged stories is where the fun and frustration begins. Writing one off scenes or dialogues based on ideas you had is fun, but what if you’re writing a story? Well, now you have to fill in the gaps. Filling in the gaps is a little bit harder because now you have point A and point B, but how do you get there?

Well, here’s where the sleepless nights and empty playlists enter. Spending time exploring different avenues, be it character motivations, setting up plot points that will come into play much later in your story, even setting up red herrings are elements that can be explored. While there’s definitely a limit to what can be done from one point to another, there’s no limit to where your mind can take you, even if it doesn’t really align with what you’re trying to write. It can always be used to spark an idea down the road.

Writing is a fluid process, and there’s no one correct way to do so. Anything that’s written can be removed, edited, or switched around. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is a story you’re telling, and you get to have fun with it.

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Updated: Jun 1

*Reading Languages to Understand Differences

Reading across translated and foreign books helps create a connection between language and the diversifying properties of learning new words, not just in the form of picking up new skills but noticing the differences in cultures.

We always hear about using Duolingo and how that little green owl pressures you to learn new words, eventually adding to your skillset. But aren’t there other ways? Well, yes there are! Like any language, understanding what is said and seeing it translated into your language is a great opportunity to not only recognize the word in a foreign language but also understand its meaning.

Translated texts that also contain the original language side-by-side allows for the reader to adopt the skill of recognizing a word and its meaning. This not only helps within the context of understanding what is being said, but also understanding why the phrasing exists. English has metaphorical speech like ‘break a leg’ to provide encouragement and not actual harm which translated into other languages would be peculiar. Words are not always directly translated, and sometimes in diversified languages, a specific word has a different meaning.

Like in Spanish, the word for speak (hablar) is dependent on the sentence it exists in, the time it is being spoken, and who is saying it. Much like English and its changes across the use of tense, language is specific to time, place, and sometimes even cultural significance. However, other languages have even more specified meanings that are so specific to the language of origin that it gives an insight.

Such words like "flâneur," of French origin, cannot be directly translated into English without a long-winded explanation as its meaning is translated to be “one who strolls aimlessly but enjoyably, observing life and their surroundings.” Such a word doesn’t exist in an English translation. We have close words like “wanderer,” but it lacks the aspect of enjoyment as one who wanders isn’t necessarily enjoying their surroundings. Other words can even have a deeper connection with its cultural significance.

The word "saudade", for example. "Saudade" comes from the Portuguese culture signifying a nostalgia characteristic related to Portuguese or Brazilian temperament. It is a word describing a state of emotional nostalgia or intense melancholic longing for someone or something with a deep attachment that is absent. This melancholy yearning is expressed in Portuguese and Brazilian literature and music. No word in English translation is capable of expressing such a feeling without understanding the turmoils of the people that know the word from its culture. So, reading a translated text with its original language of origin provides readers with an opportunity.

This opportunity is the ability to gain an insight into the culture of the literature they have decided to read. Words are not inherently separated from their origin when translated into an understandable language. Instead, the words demystify the author’s life, intentions, and culture to the reader who chose to read their translation. So, diversifying your knowledge by reading translated texts that contain the language of origin provides a stepping stone to understanding difference amidst so many languages, eventually adopting them into your speech and learning.

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