The Other Side
When having someone who is as we would classify as ‘different’ may not be so far off from the average person we are. In The Book of Unknown Americans we encounter just that, the writer introduces us into the life of a young girl named Maribel Rivera. She is the daughter of Alma and Arturo Rivera who are adjusting parents to this new life they have been handed. Within the book the story of Maribel unravels, and we learn that the cause of an accident has made her different. Maribel suffered a head injury causing her to have some mental disabilities. This young her ends up taking these different characters in the book on a different walk of life. Although she may not have been born with these mental disabilities she was lucky enough to be chosen and is able to touch many different people in her life. Which may be a blessing in disguise since Maribel is able to give her family and friends a different point of view of life.
As the story starts the Rivera family has first begun their life in Patzcuaro Mexico and were lucky enough to come to America to start a different journey. Arturo has now obtained a job in a mushroom farm. It was not the most ideal job for him, but it was going to push start their life here in America. They had so many obstacles standing in their way. They were the new family in town, they knew very little english, and had very little money. All they had was hopes and dreams to keeping them going. With being in America now their daughter Maribel had better opportunity to get help with her medical condition. Maribel had suffered a head trauma many years ago and it had seemed to change her mentally. People started to discredit her for it, back in their town of Patzcuaro Alma saw a change in the way people saw Maribel. She stated, “They seemed to believe she was no longer worthy of their attention” (Henriquez 10). That always seems to be the case when it comes to someone who may be a little different from who we are. When in reality those who are different are thought out to be more intelligent and see life in a different point of view.
Maribel was then put into a school called Evers, in town that school is thought as for ‘stupid people’ or ‘retared kids’. But there was one person in town who thought otherwise. He goes by the name of Mayor, he is your average high school kid. Once he laid eyes on Maribel he fell in love with her beauty but had no idea how special she really was. As the days went on their families grew closer so they also seemed to be with each other. First Mayor did not understand why she would not respond to him when he tried communicating with her. But as they spend more and more time together he realized she was different. After Maribel had crossed paths with the towns bully Mayor had to step him and stand up for Maribel. And that’s when things changed for him “After that, something between Maribel and me changed. I felt this weird protectiveness over her…”( Henriquez 74).
Mayor ended up seeing Maribel for more than a pretty face, he knew that he had to care for her more than the average girl. Although Mayor found a love for Maribel, Mayors father thought otherwise. He would tell Mayor “Why can’t you talk to normal girls” (Henriquez 108). Mayor knew that comment was made because of her brain damage. But he would not let that stop him from carrying on with her. Maribel was the new normal for Mayor. As their love story begins one could sense the change in Mayor. He’s being brought on this journey with Maribel and helping her along the way, meanwhile he’s getting a different outlook on life.
It seems as though nobody wanted these two together. Mayor started to rebel and continue to peruse his relationship. Mayor felt that Maribel is being deprived from the world because of her disability. One day it just so happened it started to snow at the beach, so Mayor took the car and swept Maribel off to show her this piece of mother nature. Which made Mayor feel good that he was able to do this for her, he continued to say, “Like maybe I was the only one who understood her, the only one wo was willing to give her a chance.” (Henriquez 109). Which just so happen to be true, nobody wanted to take the time to really get to know Maribel.
Although Mayor had good intentions with Maribel, outsiders might think otherwise. The two had some moments of affection which may be taken as Mayor using her disability to his advantage. When really Maribel was still present and knew exactly what she was getting herself into. She just had a hard time really getting her point across. Mayor understood when it was too much, and or when to stop. If Maribel was not interested he would have not kept perusing her.
In all, when someone may be different from who we are, we should not discredit them for the cards they have been dealt. When crossing paths with someone who has mental disabilities, it may or may not be a blessing in disguised. Mayor really got to learn what love felt like. And what it was like to truly love someone for the person they are. Which is the biggest lesson to learn from this book. Give every person a chance, you never know where or what kind of journey they will take you on. Who knows if Mayor never met Maribel he might be a whole different person and might view love in a different way if it was not for Maribel coming into his life.
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, a Division of Random House LLC, 2015.