Despite raising her strictly, with high expectations, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Paul instilled in her a sense of confidence and pride. Aunt Peggy, a strong, hard-working woman, proved an especially crucial influence. The author eventually realized that "coming to love my heritage would give me a pride of self that could be shaken yet never eliminated."
And that's really what this book is all about: one woman's resilience and courage in the face of a fractured family life and a country struggling with its own diverse identity. There isn't a trace of bitterness in this enlightening memoir—only curiosity, empathy, and forgiveness. Secret Daughter also imparts some inspiring lessons: the value not just of self-acceptance but of pride in who you are, and the virtue of keeping going, no matter what.
Carmela Ciuraru is a writer and editor in New York City. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, ArtNews, The Washington Post, and other publications, and edited six anthologies of poetry.