Boundaries – by Elizabeth Nunez

We discover subtle cultural differences between the places where we lived, and the places we move to, even when that move is within the same state or the same country. Most of us are second, third or fourth generations immigrants. Sadly, most of us either forgot or were never told the stories of our forebears and their struggles to adjust to an alien culture, or the problems they may have had when they went back to their native homes to visit relatives left behind. During the 1920s and 1930s, many of the new immigrants wanted to forget that they had been Germans or Swedes or Italians. They were gladly wading through the so-called melting pot, pushing their children to be good Americans, whatever their concept of that may have been. They were not interested in teaching their children their native languages, and there was little interest displayed in their households for the ways of the Old Country, until the grand children and great grand children came along, wanting to learn about their roots.

Elizabeth Nunez writes with affection about the adjustment one immigrant from the Caribbean had to make. Her character is a young woman who attends college in the States, then returns home expecting to be able to use her expensive education and build a comfortable career for herself. The career never materializes. She is a woman and even though she is from a respected family, no one is interested in hiring her. She lives in her parents’ home, doing menial jobs around the town that she would have been able to get without the expensive education. So, she moves back to the States, settles in New York City and works for the editor of a publishing house. Anna Sinclair is black and educated, so for a time she is head of a department, within that publishing house, that is intended to showcase Black writers. It is a lovely concept, and Anna wants to promote books that are well-written and that educated people of any race would enjoy reading. She wants to prove that Black writers can write about things other than sex and violence, and she would like to stimulate Black readers to appreciate literate novels.

However, the bottom line in that fictional publishing house is money. And sex and the promotion of sex sells. She is replaced by a Black man who has neither the education nor the experience she has in the publishing world, but he is more than willing to promote what sells — books with plenty of sex.

Anna must learn the hard way that even though she is black, she is not part of the black culture in the United States, as her family had never been slaves. So, adjusting to life in this country means adjusting to live in two or more worlds, and not being accepted by any of them.

Not only must Anna deal with cultural differences, she must deal with the angst of a mother daughter relationship that feels lacking. Her mother has always been remote. It was her father who gave her affection. Her mother may have been trying to teach her daughter what she believed to be a necessary strength — the ability to stand alone within household situations that could be less than nurturing.

Anna ultimately never feels at home either in this country or in her native country, and she learns to come to terms with that, as well as learning to understand who her mother was and what her mother was trying to teach her.

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About Genevieve

Genevieve is a ghostwriter, specializing in memoirs, biographies and novels for her clients, since 2002. She loves her work, Her blog is a hodge podge of whatever happens to be on her mind when she sits down to write. Her essays may be about anything from family life, to politics, to good grammar. Come read it at and leave a message.
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2 Responses to Boundaries – by Elizabeth Nunez

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