• Once I Was You

  • A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America
  • By: Maria Hinojosa
  • Narrated by: Maria Hinojosa
  • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (517 ratings)

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Once I Was You  By  cover art

Once I Was You

By: Maria Hinojosa
Narrated by: Maria Hinojosa
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Publisher's Summary

NPR’s Best Books of 2020

BookPage’s Best Books of 2020

Real Simple’s Best Books of 2020

Boston.com readers voted one of Best Books of 2020

“Anyone striving to understand and improve this country should read her story.” (Gloria Steinem, author of My Life on the Road)

The Emmy Award-winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis in this memoir that is “quite simply beautiful, written in Maria Hinojosa’s honest, passionate voice” (BookPage).

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who, for nearly 30 years, has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media - from tales of hope in the South Bronx to the unseen victims of the war on terror and the first detention camps in the US. Best-selling author Julia Álvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community”.

In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations - charging us with the broken system we have today.

An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, this honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth.

Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú

©2020 Maria Hinojosa (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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What listeners say about Once I Was You

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Fabulous!!

Maria illuminates her personal story in a frank and meaningful way. Historical events woven into the story provide a framework for her commitment to humanity, to authentic story telling and for finding a way to help the under represented & misunderstood immigrant communities. It’s a genuine call to action for those looking to make a difference in their own communities.

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What an amazing story & historical information!

The heart and soul of the story will forever stay with me. I will read this again very soon, though, to better absorb the historical narrative on immigration which Maria gave. I wish this was taught to us so we can contribute to helping correct our country's broken practices.

4 people found this helpful

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Such a good book!!

María Hinojosa reads the book herself which feels like she’s talking to you on the couch. She tells her life story,while also going deep into immigration history in the United States and also shares stories from people she’s come across. I didn’t even know much about her before hearing the book but was interested in the immigration information, however I got so much more than I expected from this book. I recommend it to everyone!

2 people found this helpful

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Truly beautiful story!

Thank you so much, Maria for sharing your story. For being so vulnerable. You’re an inspiration. Viva la Raza!!

1 person found this helpful

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Thr story of immigration is both public & private

From someone who has a more privileged background than most of the immigrants in the news these days this is a story about how learning in depth about an issue can lead to personal insight & growth. Muchas gracias por tu coraje.

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Great memoir, read beautifully by the author.

Loved it and was inspired by many aspects of her life. Thanks for sharing your story Maria and for fighting for your dreams. Her story of life, challenges and takeaways is impactful. The journey is not an easy one but the story it creates is a beautiful one. Just got to remember to think about perspective and sometimes we're lucky to see the lessons in the struggle.

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Final chapters were so moving

I'm not usually a memoir reader. I found the later chapters that recorded the horrendous events at the border in the 2000s to be the most interesting, the most moving and something every American needs to read.

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History that repeats itself and we know.

Listening to this autobiography, I couldn't help but think about my own migration story. His impressions, anecdotes and challenges made me relive many of my stories. I rediscovered the ignorance I had about the immigration system and the culture of racism and discrimination in the USA, instinctively trying to find parallels between her history and mine.
If you are an immigrant and have gone through these experiences, I recommend that you listen to her. The narrative is fluid and easy to follow and although you may disagree with some of her points of view; the truth reafirmed by data is, without a doubt, an immutable truth.

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  • DP
  • 07-10-22

What a woman!

Loved this book. Filed with so much thoughtful information, love, humor, insight, and a lot of inspiration.

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Moving and enlightening!

Enjoyed Maria’s story of how she evolved and the historical review of immigration policies. No me voy!