Maria E. Andreu – What I see
I’m Maria E. Andreu.
Thanks for stopping by my site.
Read my blog, announcements
and other musings here.
Quotes from LOVE IN ENGLISH
learning English and all its quirks.
Plus falling in love and
a whole lot more
Click below to read more about it.
Quotes from THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY
feeling like you don’t belong.
But there’s a romance, a problem,
and a whole lot more.
Click below to read some quotes.
High res photos, bio and more
A bit about what inspired LOVE IN ENGLISH
When I was eight years old, I came to the United States and didn’t speak English. My parents were afraid of public school because we were undocumented. So they enrolled me in a tiny parochial school called St. Mary’s. There was no ESL class in my new school, so they put me in a regular classroom while the teacher and kids spoke an indecipherable tongue. How would I ever understand anything? I wondered. I remember the despair and the enormity of the feeling. My first relief came at math class. Numbers! Numbers I recognized. I would start there and decipher things one little bit at a time.
I gave that relief of math class to Ana, my main character in LOVE IN ENGLISH, and many of the other thoughts and dreams and dreads I once had as I learned English. Ana was a poet in her native Argentina and feels like the thing that she most relied on – her voice – has gone away in her new life. She is a bit older than I was – sixteen – so her problems are different than the ones I experienced. There’s Harrison, the oh-so-cute American boy she wants to get to know but can’t understand. There’s Neo in her ESL class (the ESL class I wish I’d had!) who shares her experience of being new in the U.S. and who offers her friendship as they navigate this new language.
So there’s a love story at the heart of LOVE IN ENGLISH, but, to me, the real love story is the one with the English language. Despite my tough start, I soon found solace in books, words revealing themselves easier than spoken language did. English could be maddening at times (why rough, bough, dough, cough?) but in its intricacies it revealed a magical cleverness, a complicated history.
I was the one kid in class absolutely absorbed when our high school English teacher played us an episode of the PBS series, The Story of English. I learned about Beowulf, the Angles, the Saxons, William the Conqueror, the church, all bringing their own languages into this crucible where English was born. That same teacher read us Chaucer in the original Middle English. She made me see language as a living thing, subject to the push and pull of conquests, the words of the kitchen vs. those of the drawing room. I devoured everything I could read. I marveled at Nabokov and his non-native speaker’s playfulness with the language, turning it over on the page like a pretty object which reveals another facet if you see if from a different angle.
So it was this love of language I worked to bring to LOVE IN ENGLISH. It’s all one immigrant’s ode to the language that at first concealed itself and then revealed itself magically, generously. I love my native Spanish, the language of lullabies and my mother’s stories, the first tongue that springs to mind when I stub my toe. But there are the loves we’re born to and the ones we choose. And I choose English with my whole heart. I hope it shows in LOVE IN ENGLISH.