One Mexican-American realizes that family roots are not a case of “either/or”

An unlikely motive is the impetus for author Stephanie Elizondo Griest to embark on an 8-month journey throughout Mexico in search of her family’s roots. What she uncovers is a connection that doesn’t just link families but countries.

“If I only spoke Spanish, I would be more Mexican.”

LatinaLista — It was that simple belief that sent Corpus Christi, Texas native and author Stephanie Elizondo Griest on an 8-month journey through Mexico to rediscover her maternal family roots.

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What resulted was “Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines,” (Washington Square Press, 2008) part journal, part travelogue, part research and fully entertaining as this 30-something Mexican American traveled throughout Mexico learning her mother’s native tongue and getting to know a people, a culture and a history that was familiar yet foreign.

In her book, Ms. Griest makes the reader feel like a privileged friend lucky enough to tag along on an adventure that explores Mexico City’s gay sub-culture to villages decimated of men lured by promises of generous salaries in “El Norte” to marching through the Zapatista-controlled jungles of southern Mexico.

It’s through her eyes and the many conversations that she strikes up with people along the way that we get an honest look at what and who is Mexico.

From “Mexican Enough,” we learn that most children as young as 5-years-old dream of coming north into the United States to work. We learn that the reason why signs of Coca-Cola and Pepsi are so prevalent in the impoverished Mexican countryside is because these companies will paint homes and businesses for free if owners agree to act as billboards for their products.

We learn that Wal-Mart just isn’t a discount store but a conglomerate that is the largest private employer in the country and operates over 900 stand-alone businesses ranging from health clinics to restaurants.

Ms. Griest’s quest for her identity reveals the common experiences of life in Mexico and in the process allows us all to get to know a country whose history is rooted with our own.

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