As a Mexican-American student at Vanderbilt I cherish the rare moments when I can identify with someone or something that reminds me of or embodies the culture that I come from. Reading Snapshots from the Wedding by Gary Soto and illustrated by Stephanie Garcia has been the most recent rare moment for me. There is so much in this book that I identified with and that truly transported me back to the times in my childhood when I attended weddings with my family. Not only did the mariachis, the mole stains, and the white lacy socks depicted in the illustrations of clay figures in a shadow box bring back the concrete aspects of my childhood memories, but the writing itself reminded me of how I used to view the world as a child. Throughout the narration of the story by the young flower girl, Maya, her thoughts focus on the little things that end up bringing the most joy to us, even within the context of the already joyful experience of attending a wedding. Comments about the finger foods that Maya ends up eating and playing with, the fun of sliding down the halls in her white anklet socks and running up and down the stairs as well as the anticipation of the moment when you finally get to eat the wedding cake that’s been looming in the corner table for what seems like the longest time reminded me of how kids usually find the simplest ways to have fun and how those things stay with us in our memories even years after.
While the story centers around a typical Mexican-American wedding I realize that such experiences are universal in their essence regardless of the culture that one comes from. Also, while I know that any kid from any background would enjoy reading this book, I actually think that adults might enjoy this more. As a 20 year old college student (technically an adult) this book provided me with the chance to reflect on my childhood and to relive those times through the Maya’s words and pictures of the book. If you’re looking to go down memory lane this is definitely a great place to start 🙂
By Aleida Michelle Gomez