“Book Review: Knitting the Fog”
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
A wide-open look into childhood resilience and immigration
Knitting the Fog isn’t only a story about a family’s immigration. It is the story about what builds and breaks people, how far family will go to protect each other, and about the wounds that never heal. It pulls you in with its rawness, then keeps you there with its eye-opening journey. Told through short narrative essays and poems, this memoir is as touching as it is powerful.
When Claudia’s mother leaves their family to create a better life for them in the USA, it feels like abandonment to the then seven-year-old Hernandez. Her mother is a tough, protective woman in a tumultuous relationship, and to her, there is no other way.
“No one dared to mess with her. She carried herself in such a way, insinuating that she was good at everything, including cutting her own hair, my sisters’ hair, and mine.”
While their mother is gone, Hernandez and her two older sisters are forced back and forth between their aunt’s and grandmother’s houses, often short on money and feeling it. A hunger forms in them: for food, for their parents, for an understanding of why their life is this way. After three years of this passed-around lifestyle, their mother returns from what Claudia calls, “El Norte.” After momentary bliss, their family’s strength is soon tested again when their mother attempts to smuggle them all to America illegally.
As they navigate the nearly month-long journey from Guatemala to California, the girls and their mother travel through dangerous and uncertain situations on foot, an overcrowded bus, boat, and lastly a plane to get to their destination. With no choice but to trust in a group of men known as “coyotes” to ensure that they get there in one piece, they learn to let go but also to hold tighter. And once that journey concludes, an entirely different one of assimilating into the culture awaits them.
“There I was, crossing the river, leaving things and people behind–my home, my family, my country.”
Claudia Hernandez does an excellent job of telling both her and her family’s story in this book. She offers up her own interpretations of events seen through the eyes of a child, but she also dives deeper into the reality of each situation. As each generation passes down the best and worst parts of themselves, we see a family grow and bond in a way that no distance can break.
While some family members are far from perfect, I left this experience empathetic of nearly every single one. Just a group of suffering people, juggling their hurt while trying to manage a life. They are women attempting to put their own hunger to the side in efforts to give some kind of sustenance to the lives of the ones they love. I put this book down feeling inspired by these women and encouraged by their stories, knowing that this book should be in the hands of anyone questioning the lengths people will go to in order to create a life with more possibilities.
Knitting the Fog feels perfectly timed in this political climate, a first-hand account of some of the intense conditions immigrants face in coming to America and leaving their memories and loved ones behind.
Publisher: Feminist Press
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