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129 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Read
Full disclosure, I am a lawyer, so I have perhaps an above average interest in Sonia Sotomayor. Prior to reading this book, I did not know much about her, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more. On the whole, I enjoyed this book. I was not a fan of the writing style. I suppose it was meant to be conversational, but I found it a bit stilted at times...
Published 24 months ago by Chic

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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In all, I would recommend the book to anyone who. like me, admires the Judge.
My beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, Spanglish Edition

Whenever I review a famous person biography - or "memoir" as the Justice has decided to call it - I try to think how the book would read if the person writing it would be an ordinary person.

The book opens with the Justice's diagnosis of juvenile diabetes at age 7 - "not yet 8" - and how Sonia...
Published 24 months ago by Carlos T. Mock


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129 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Read, February 4, 2013
This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
Full disclosure, I am a lawyer, so I have perhaps an above average interest in Sonia Sotomayor. Prior to reading this book, I did not know much about her, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more. On the whole, I enjoyed this book. I was not a fan of the writing style. I suppose it was meant to be conversational, but I found it a bit stilted at times and overly formal. I find any reviews that this book is not heavy enough on Justice Sotomayor's legal doctrine laughable. One, it is a memoir. Two, she is clear in her preface that she will not be covering that topic. Three, the books stops when she is appointed to the federal bench in 1992. If you want to know a Supreme Court Justice's doctrine, read through their opinions, concurrences and dissents. Don't look to a memoir that focuses mostly on her coming of age and early years as an attorney.

The book was engaging, and really demonstrates what hard work can accomplish. As she notes, she may not have been qualified when she made it to certain points in her life, but she worked her tail off to show that she was more than deserving, which can be seen by all types of objective achievements. I particularly enjoyed the sections of the book that discussed her work at the DA's office. If I had one major complaint, it would be that she was a tad bit too self-congratulatory. That could be my own stereotypes speaking, however! I have to push myself to decide whether I would feel the same way if she were a man. The fact is that she has accomplished more than most people can dream of, with far fewer tools. That can only come from intelligence, hard work and savvy, which she certainly should feel proud about. Good, quick read for anyone looking to learn more about Justice Sotomayor.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Interesting and Highly Worthwhile Lessons, January 26, 2013
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This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
I did not quite know what to expect regarding this memoir by Justice Sotomayor of her pre-judicial life. As a student of the Court for 40 years or so, a lawyer for 35 years, and a trained political scientist, I have found judicial biographies and the few judicial memoirs highly insightful into the character and actions of particular Justices. Justice Sotomayor is certainly the least known of the current Court, at least to me, and I was pleasantly surprised how absolutely candid her book is. It tells one a great deal about her, her background, and her character. The only other candid and insightful memoir that compares with this one is Justice Thomas' "My Grandfather's Son," distinctive for its remarkable honesty and perspective on his thinking and the factors that shaped it. A number of her topics stand out:

First, she affords the reader a remarkable perspective on affirmative action, which she readily admits touched upon her own life in terms of Princeton, Yale Law, and her selection as a U.S. District Judge. Her attitude is much more supportive of the concept than Thomas was in his sometimes angry discussion of the issue in his book. Sotomayor places emphasis upon affirmative action as providing an opportunity to work very hard, unbelievably hard, and to demonstrate what your true capabilities are. She discusses this concept several times at different stages of her book, and I am very appreciative for helping to develop my thinking on this important issue.

Second, I found her story most fascinating because it is, in microcosm, the story of Puerto Rican challenges in Hispanic New York. I knew very little about this culture before reading the book. But throughout, elements of Puerto Rican life pop up; and I was pleased that the author uses many Spanish names and expressions, which facilitates the reader's introduction to this rich culture. Sotomayor has included a glossary of Spanish terms and expressions which is quite helpful. The challenges that Sotomayor faced, and faced successfully, are immense. And it is important to understand this dimensions of the Puerto Rican experience.

For those contemplating a legal career, the book affords important insights. As a retired law firm partner, I was particularly interested in the narrative of her progression from being an Assistant D.A. in New York, to becoming a law firm associate and later partner, and finally her initial judicial appointment. Since this was all new to Sotomayor, she shares her reactions to each step in a way that educates the reader as to the challenges in following such a course.

Finally, I was delighted with how candidly she discusses her type I diabetes and how this has impacted (and continues to impact) her life. Since we currently have some manner of epidemic underway, with many victims unaware of their condition, such discussion is critically important. I speak from my own experience.

There are many other "pluses" I could discuss, but these are the major points that struck me. I should add that she emerges as one tough character; a trait I am sure she relies upon frequently in interacting with some of her forceful Court brethren. For this, I am extremely thankful. Surely, Sotomayor has a healthy ego, but after reading this remarkable memoir, one can only conclude she has earned it.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In all, I would recommend the book to anyone who. like me, admires the Judge., January 28, 2013
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This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
My beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, Spanglish Edition

Whenever I review a famous person biography - or "memoir" as the Justice has decided to call it - I try to think how the book would read if the person writing it would be an ordinary person.

The book opens with the Justice's diagnosis of juvenile diabetes at age 7 - "not yet 8" - and how Sonia learns how to give her insulin shots to stop her parents from fighting about it. We see a little girl who lives in the the projects of the Bronx, raised by an alcoholic father - Juan Luis or Juli - and a nurse - Celina - who are constantly fighting. Her father dies soon after the beginning of the book, and we see Sonia raised in an extended family which includes her grandmother - abuelita Mercedes - and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sonia's best friends are her immediate family and her comfort and support are drawn from it.

I found this part of the book to be quite endearing - a la Junot Díaz way - with multiple use of Spanish words and phrases to remind the reader of the Justice's background and culture. However as we move past Cardinal Spellman High School and on to Princeton and Yale Law School, the book changes in tone. The Spanish words and phrases diminish in frequency, and the reader is presented with the more professional side of the Justice.

This second half of the book I found tedious and boring. It becomes more of a who's who in the Justice personal life. The Justice apologizes in her introduction: "If particular friends or family members find themselves not mentioned...I hope they will understand that the needs of a clear and focused telling must outweigh even an abundance of feeling." It almost felt that if you were famous and she knew you, she would drop his or her name to add flare to the narrative. i didn't like it - I felt it drew flare away from her....

I also wondered why the Justice found herself defending her admissions to Princeton and Yale Law School. Her constant defense and justification of minority quotas and her insecurities as to why she was admitted to both schools are not necessary; after all, she's a Justice of the Supreme Court - case closed!

Her work as assistant D. A. in New York, the cases she tried, and then her take at the Pavia and Hartcourt law firm, and finally her appointment to the District Court Judge for the South District of NY - where the book abruptly ends - are not as fun to read. And, yes, I was disappointed that the Justice did not include her story as to how she was appointed to the Supreme Court. As much as I admire and like the Judge, I think it would have made a much better read, given who she is, and why we're reading her story.

The book is very well edited; the narrative is from the first person universal point if view; which is what I would expect in any a biography. After all, we're seeing the world through Sonia Sotomayor's point of view. The Glossary is a nice feature.

In all, I would recommend the book to anyone who. like me, admires the Judge.
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133 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speak, Memory, January 15, 2013
This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
Memoirs today come out of a black hole, many of them tainted by allusions to fact later revealed to be the heady stuff of fiction. It has happened so often the genre, it seems, doesn't know what it wants to be. So it is refreshing right out of the box to run into the preface of Justice Sotomayor, who lays down her rules for writing...rules of engagement, as it were. She takes as firm a stand as we are likely to read against blended characters, and a reader gets the impression there isn't going to be a recall of this book, a retraction, let alone a major scandal involving facts that turn out to be chimera. Considering the disasters we've come to expect from memoir, it's a great start.

I winced when the Justice gave herself an insulin injection on 60 Minutes; the incident repeats itself in the opening chapter, one that it reads more like a Dennis Lehane sequence, and the only thing keeping it from continuing on in this manner are the interjections, the lessons of a lived life, that every so often bubble up and infuse the text with didactic mannerisms. But even with them, the text flows easily, readers are engulfed in the lustrous prose because the language is steeped in verisimilitude with its seances, Abuelita and bisabuela, the neuropathy of a father bathed in alcoholism - the characters all alive, vivid, and brilliantly real. At some moments, you could be in the magical world of Marquez, as in: "vines snaked under iron fences and up balustrades. Chickens scrabbled under hibiscus bushes and bright yellow canario flowers. I watched the afternoon rains pour down like a curtain...". In other places, the regret of Joan Didion: "ballet class was a brief torture."

Justice Sotomayor had the ability to study with the TV on, and although many consider TV a wasteland, Perry Mason and Burger the prosecutor rose up to cast their influence. It's believable because it happened to many of us (Lieutenant Tragg was my favorite). Then came career influences: Princeton and Yale seem like so much playtime, until the case of Richard Maddicks, New York's infamous Tarzan murderer. Here the writing itself changes; morphs into something out of an Elmore Leonard novel, except that it's a real case, and probably one of the reasons the Justice was so convincing when she told 60 Minutes she had seen true evil.

Charming, chilling and powerful, all at the same time.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Memoir, February 3, 2013
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Middle-aged Professor (NY'er living in Ohio) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
The law is my profession, and I have great familiarity with both the Supreme Court and many of the other places Sonia Sotomayor worked and studied, and my cynical side kept me from having much interest reading her life story titled "My Beloved World." I mean, come on. Really? The great reviews and its relevance to my work eventually moved me to give it a reluctant try. Wow. Put my cynicism on the shelf: this is a fantastic and fascinating memoir. Sotomayor is stunningly revealing about her emotional and intellectual growth and experiences, well beyond the norm of a memoir of a political figure in power. The force of her tale, though, also comes from the skill of her writing. The story of her life is tightly constructed, filled with anecdote and reflection, but always to a purpose, and never indulges in maudlin sentimentality or false modesty. This sort of writing is completely different from that required of a judge or a litigator, and her skill is truly impressive.

Her rags-to-glory story has many fascinating takeaways, including her culture, her family, dealing with an alcoholic father, barriers to women, diabetes. . . and much more. There were two big ones, though, for me. First, was the application of her story to affirmative action and racism. Her stories from Princeton, Yale and the practice of law explode so many of the myths exploited by those who think the need is past and speak to many issues, including the value of diversity. As the Court faces the possibility (again) of declaring affirmative action unconstitutional, this honest presentation of one story underscores its importance and value in a way that the opinions in the case surely will not --- they will seem hollow and out-of-touch in comparison. Second, was her willingness throughout her life to admit to herself what she didn't know (yet). When presented with others who exceeded her knowledge and ability in any area, rather than acting defensively, she would seek out their knowledge and advice. She studies both friends and mentors for what she can learn from them and, by dint of will and effort, keeps growing and learning. It takes both drive and a deep level of secure self-esteem to follow this course, and this aspect of her story alone is highly inspirational.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, courageous memoir., January 18, 2013
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I couldn't put down this book, which is, at times, painfully candid and at the same time enormously uplifting. Even Lincoln's rise from poverty seems to pale beside Sotomayor's journey from the slums to the Supreme Court. A must read.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such navigation, such intelligence, January 20, 2013
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This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
I've read my fair share of memoirs. Some of them end up being giant thank you notes to all of the people they've ever met (Barbara Bush) and others end up being pages of television episode recaps (The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House. Still, some others manage to surprise and delight, one of the best being Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. And let me put Associate Justice Sotomayor's new memoir on this best list.

Deftly written, full of poignant and touching memories, Sonia Sotomayor's magnificent journey from her roots in the projects in the Bronx to the world of jurisprudence is recounted in "My Beloved World". Starting off with a story of realizing how her life was going to change upon learning she had diabetes, the book grips you and won't let you go once you finish it. Moving from apartment to apartment in the projects, learning about the death of her father at such a young age, and navigating the racial world that she found herself in were elements that made her strong, and make for a strong story. Her reflections on the role education played in her developed were particularly poignant; learning how being invited to Phi Beta Kappa was quite the honor from a fellow classmate is one example.

As Sotomayor is thrust into new world after new world, it's clear she must navigate these worlds, relying on her own sense of intuition and intelligence, as well as the kindness and understanding of others. At every turn, and in every situation, she recounts, without judgment or hint of anger, the blatant racism she experienced and how she refused to let it define who she was or what she believes in.

Sotomayor is careful as to the details she selects to share, making the childhood portion of her memoir stronger than the second part of the book as she gets into college and the legal world. Still, she writes with such love and clarity, especially about her family, that you truly get a sense of why she feels like she comes from a beloved world. For those of you wanting to read the book to get insights on her judicial philosophy or how she might rule in a variety of cases, these isn't the book for you. She gracefully avoids such parts.

This is a book that one you start reading it it simply won't let you go. Sonia Sotomayor has led a most interesting, intriguing life, and this book is an honest celebration of her journey and more importantly, how she navigated that journey. I can only hope that part 2 is coming soon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The American Dream is Alive; The modern memoir has a new masterpiece, March 24, 2014
This review is from: My Beloved World (Kindle Edition)
Justice Sonia Sotomayor's memoir "My Beloved World" is the best modern autobiography I have ever had the joy of picking up. Wow. Wonderful. If you have a daughter, this is must reading. If you are a minority, this is must reading. If you are a 41 year old white lawyer in Utah, this is required reading.

I cried about 10 times reading this book. It is so moving to hear about the American dream lived in all its struggle and fight and beauty and heartbreak and ultimately triumph. When she has to learn to give herself insulin shots at age 8, I cried. When her father drank himself to death when she was 10, I cried. When a kind classmate taught her how to study by taking notes, I cried. When she got into Princeton, I cried. When her the doctors and staff at the hospital began to treat her mother with respect due to Sonia's accomplishments, I cried. And so forth.

This is the story of the best of America. Not cleaned-up all pretty, but real and gritty and true.

Justice Sotomayor wonders why she made it while her beloved cousin fell prey to addiction to drugs and crime and an early death from AIDS (contracted from dirty needles). Ultimately she puts it down to an inner drive, discipline, and a competitive need to be her best self. Ultimately she thinks she was born with it. It was just there within. She does say at one point that every child, to achieve their potential in life has to have one person who believes in them totally and loves them unconditionally. For Justice Sotomayor it was her grandmother. But her soul-mate cousin was also one of the grandmother's favorites. It is not alone enough. You have to have the drive within.

Justice Sotomayor married young, but divorced after only a few years, never to remarry (although she remains hopeful for a fulfilling relationship). She has poured herself into her work--15 hour days and 7 day weeks were not uncommon. She admits to sorrow at not having kids, but has peace about it, focusing on being the best god-mother to many. She recognized years ago a deficit of physical loving contact in her life and reached out to nieces and nephews and god-children and told them that she needed more hugs. They have responded with enthusiasm and fill the void, a void no longer.

In contrast, she developed a reputation as a tough-as-nail NYC prosecutor after finishing at Yale Law. More than once she was called a tough Puerto Rican bitch. She was known for her merciless cross examinations in trial and relentless preparation.

After leaving the NYC Prosecutor's office, she joined a small Manhattan law firm, Pavia & Harcourt, where she represented the Italian family design shop Fendi (and became very close friends with them, vacationing with them and attending family events). So interesting for the nerdy Puerto Rican from the Bronx to become the best of friends with Italian haute culture.

Unfortunately the story of the book ends with her appointment to the Federal District Court at age 36 in 1992. Understandably, she can't speak about the cases she handled as she is still on the bench, albeit a few steps up.

Ultimately, this is a story of the American dream, where anyone can make it to any heights. Even a diabetic hispanic from a single-working-mother household in the projects in the Bronx can become a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. It is a story that inspires and heartens over and over again.

This is one of my favorite books ever. It was that good. And you can't help but fall in love with Sonia Sotomayor. I am so glad she is on the Supreme Court. I literally feel better about America and our future knowing she will be at the table when cases are discussed and her vote is one of the nine. I pray she lives a long and healthy life and imparts a strong influence on the Court and by extension the United States of America.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sonia Sotomayor has an Inspiring Story of Achievement Through Hard Work and Determination, February 7, 2014
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This review is from: My Beloved World (Paperback)
I thought the book was an excellent example of how some have been able to rise above a difficult childhood environment to achieve great things. Sonia Sotomayor's parents came from Puerto Rico. She grew up in the projects in the Bronx. Her father, though loving, was an alcoholic who drank himself to death when she was nine. Her mother was a practical nurse who raised two children on a very limited income. They attended Catholic schools. In high school, Sonia was on the debate team, one of the things that inspired her to become a lawyer. She worked very hard and received excellent grades and recommendations. Though her counselors encouraged her to attend a Catholic college, she discovered that many of the Ivy League schools were practicing affirmative action (this was the 1970s) and were looking for gifted minorities and women. After visiting several schools, she chose Princeton, where she graduated summa cum laude and also received the prestigious Pyne Prize. She didn't even know what it was, When she received a letter to join Phi Beta Kappa, she threw it away until a friend explained that it too was a high honor. Unlike legacy students, she did not hear about these things growing up. She worked as a district attorney, then for a private law firm, before being nominated to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2009, President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court.
Though her family had many difficulties, she was greatly loved by her paternal grandmother, Abulita. Though her relationship was distant with her mother for many years, they became close in later years. Her brother became a doctor. Her favorite cousin, however, became a drug addict and died of AIDs. The book is a wonderful example of someone who was able to rise to an important place by her hard work and determination,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Latina's Ascent, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: My Beloved World (Hardcover)
A sometimes heart-rending memoir, My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, is also a "how to" book for minorities or anyone who wonders how one disadvantaged young person managed to rise so high above her circumstances. Growing up in the drug-filled projects of the South Bronx, where blacks and Puerto Ricans coexisted tensely within dark hallways and stairways, Sotomayor was a high-spirited child who was inspired and supported by each of her parents in a different way, also by her beloved paternal grandmother, by aunts, uncles, and many cousins, and by a prescient German-born pediatrician. Her abuelita, a special beacon, was the person everyone needs, "in order to thrive" as Sotomayor put it, "a child must have at least one adult in her life who shows her unconditional love, respect and confidence." Catholic schools, despite some objectionable personalities and where spanking was de rigeur, provided the rigorous foundation that Sotomayor took advantage of to propel herself forward academically. And she doesn't disappoint, emphasizing her resolve to become a lawyer, inspired by Perry Mason on TV, although her goal sometimes seemed murky to a Hispanic girl who had never even met a lawyer. Sotomayor's strength also came from having to contend with juvenile diabetes, a daily challenge that required discipline and courage. The other disease that she had to deal with was the alcoholism of her father until his death when Sotomayor was nine.
Sotomayor describes everyday life affectionately and convincingly: shopping for a live chicken with her grandmother, and the day her father bought Encyclopedia Britannica. Her early years could be pretty typical of any working class youth growing up in a rough borough of New York in the 1960's. She had enough to eat, family support, a trip to the Canadian Rockies while in law school, and a wedding in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The linchpin? I would say it was her high school student forensics coach, Ken Moy, a Chinese-American friend who went to Princeton and encouraged her to apply there. Then affirmative action did its job, and so did Sotomayor.
Her prime target reader is any young person finding her/his way, whom she hopes will use her experiences as a springboard to fulfillment of their aspirations. My Beloved World was written in collaboration with Zara Houshmand and its style sometimes can be wooden. I was a bit mystified as to the glorification of Puerto Rico. Sotomayer was born an American and only went to PR with family twice during the book. It does provide a romantic perspective in contrast to the grit of her early childhood surroundings. In the second half she strays from her memoirs to proselytize about the bum rap Puerto Ricans get and some of her political views. At times Sotomayer seems a bit full of herself, boasting about her good grades and other accomplishments, explaining that one reason for her divorce was that her husband couldn't deal with her success. Some of the people in the photos in My Beloved World are not identified or labeled in any way. There is a glossary of Spanish words in the back which seems unnecessary but maybe Sonia thought the gringos might need it. All in all, I believe anyone would enjoy this documentation of a Latina's ascent on the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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My Beloved World
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (Hardcover - January 15, 2013)
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