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Edwin Fontanez
One Last Song for My Father

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Through heartfelt essays and poetry, Latino children’s book author and illustrator Edwin Fontánez examines his relationship with his father from childhood to adulthood. Drawing from his personal journals, the author recounts a rural childhood in Puerto Rico filled with joyous moments as well as chaos caused by his father’s alcoholism and gambling. As an artistic young gay man, he searched for connection with his often remote father while dealing with the stresses of growing up in a machista Hispanic culture. After leaving the island in his twenties to pursue a career on the mainland, he began to forge an identity independent of his upbringing while still trying to retain his cultural roots. When his father was diagnosed with senile dementia at age 76, a 16-year-long journey began to try to understand his father’s life from an adult perspective. Through conversations with family members, a picture emerged of his father as an energetic, independent man who was a talented craftsman and an eager (if not so talented) musician. Even through his long mental illness, music was the one thing that kept his father’s spirit alive. Stories of colorful neighborhood characters, the humiliations of poverty, family dynamics, and lush descriptions of the island’s topography paint a vivid picture of life on the island. Enhanced by artwork and family photos by the author, One Last Song for My Father is a memoir filled with humor, empathy, love, and ultimately healing.