Luz, A Novel: Debra Thomas on An Immigrant's Border Crossing to Find the Meaning of Home

October 9, 2020
Hosted by Diane Dewey

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Guest Information

Episode Description

Family devotion & compassion: Alma Cruz wishes her willful teenage daughter, Luz, could know the truth about her past, but Luz can never know about the journey Alma took to the US to find her missing father when she was a young woman. Alma’s father knows her better than anyone else, encouraging her love of math and her dreams of becoming a teacher, so when he disappears in 1997 after leaving Oaxaca to work on farms in California, a part of her is lost as well. After three years of poverty, Alma and her sister Rosa set out on a perilous trek north to find their father. Along the way, Alma discovers first love and encounters both kindness and profound cruelty. What happens once she reaches the US is a journey from despair to hope. A connection to her father’s past, the truth about a hidden letter, and her determined search to find farmworker-champion Dolores Huerta all help Alma move forward as she finds answers and gains the strength that she needs to begin a new life in Los Angeles.

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Diane Dewey

My most pressing question has always been about identity: Who am I? Growing up near Philadelphia with my adoptive family, my genetic identity was hidden. Then, my Swiss biological father, Otto, contacted me when I was age forty-seven in 2002. I’d been told by my adoptive parents that my biological parents were dead, supposedly to protect me. Meeting Otto upended my life. Through him, I met my German biological mother’s family to discover that her story too, had been changed; that she’d not wanted to surrender me and she’d searched for me all her life. Finding my truth was essential.

Based on my experience I am excited to talk to people about their own search for identity. My education includes a BA from Villanova University, a certificate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. I’ve worked for The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The SoHo Partnership and the National Academy of Design and have studied writing through New York University’s Continuing Education program. As an entrepreneur, I founded my art appraisal business, The Realization of Art in 2006. My non-fiction writing has been published in Shared Space, a monograph, and in Artes online magazine. Writing workshops worldwide have given me the chance to learn and hone my craft. My first book, “Fixing the Fates,” was awarded the National Non-Fiction Author’s Association Silver Medal and the Living Now Award.

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