MetroWest Community-Wide Read features Southborough author’s “White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing”

Above: The latest book by Southborough’s Jennifer De Leon is featured as MetroWest Readers Fest’s first Community-Wide Read. (images from author’s website, including photo by Alonso Nichols, and press release)

Last summer, I shared news about a Southborough author’s YA novel. This spring, she published a new work “White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing”.

The founder of a new area non-profit, MetroWest Readers Fest, reached out about a regional effort for a community-wide read of White Space. The initiative will kickoff next Tuesday, July 13th with an event at the Wayside Inn that includes a pop-up bookshop. The shop’s net profits will be used to donate books to children in need.

White Space is a collection of essays about De Leon’s personal experiences as a Guatemalan-American woman who explored her roots as an adult. Her website describes:

Sometime in her twenties, Jennifer De Leon asked herself, “What would you do if you just gave yourself permission?” While her parents had fled Guatemala over three decades earlier when the country was in the grips of genocide and civil war, she hadn’t been back since she was a child. She gave herself permission to return—to relearn the Spanish that she had forgotten, unpack her family’s history, and begin to make her own way.

Alternately honest, funny, and visceral, this powerful collection follows De Leon as she comes of age as a Guatemalan-American woman and learns to navigate the space between two worlds. Never rich or white enough for her posh college, she finds herself equally adrift in her first weeks in her parents’ home country. During the years to follow, she would return to Guatemala again and again, meet ex-guerrillera and genocide survivors, get married in the old cobblestoned capital of Antigua, and teach her newborn son about his roots.

The details of the community read and kickoff event are below: 

MetroWest Readers Fest Announces Community-Wide Read and Kick-Off Event with The Wayside Inn Foundation and Hygge House Books on July 13

MetroWest Readers Fest announces a regional community-wide read called ONE. The signature title for this initiative is White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing by Jennifer De Leon. Published in March 2021 and the recipient of the Juniper Prize for Creative Nonfiction, White Space takes readers from Guatemala, to Connecticut College, to the Bay Area, to MetroWest: Framingham, where De Leon was raised and now teaches at Framingham State University. De Leon is also the author of the YA novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, which Celeste Ng calls “A funny, perceptive, and much-needed book telling a much-needed story.”

Events with De Leon are planned for September 28 in Ashland and September 30 at Goodnow Library in Sudbury. Resources including discussion questions, articles, and activities as well as information about a book giveaway and how to acquire De Leon’s books, will soon be available at metrowestreadersfest.org.

To kick off ONE, MetroWest Readers Fest — in collaboration with The Wayside Inn Foundation — is planning a pop-up bookshop at The Wayside Inn on Tuesday, July 13 from 7 to 9 pm. People are invited to come and meet up with friends, order a beverage at The Inn’s Old Bar, and browse a curated selection of bestsellers, current releases, and book-club-perfect titles with Hygge House Books, a pop-up book shop. Hygge House Books, a traveling pop-up book store operated by middle school ELA teacher Beth Orsini, uses all net profits to donate books to children in need. Both White Space and Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From will be available.

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