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by Gia Bernini
Coriander is a collection of honest and heartfelt essays that reveal an identity that requires straddling two worlds. Without hesitation, Bernini’s thoughts about belonging (or not) immediately pull us into life in a North American middle class suburb adjoining life as a Latino immigrant. Bernini engages the reader in humorous and shrewd speculation on the experiences she depicts.
In “Night of the Living Bible” she tells how Christian Evangelical Ecuadorean friends butcher a lamb in her garage before leaving to pick up her teenage daughter from a soccer game played under stadium lights. In “Good Fences” “Backyard American Dream,” and “Ode to the Fischer Cat,” we visit themes of private property, immigration and racism. Bernini's moving essays are universal because her focus remains always on the “humanness” in hers and our own experiences. In “The Woman Astronaut“, she asks, “How will her tears flow in space where there is no gravity?”
“Like a welcoming host, Bernini urges us to experience with her the splintering of self that occurs for anyone not identified as belonging to one cultural group. From the crooked finger of a neighbor to the dessert sand in a woman's hair, Coriander changes the way you understand the concept of identity and reads like a tender poem.”
— Rosie McMahan