Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in August 2009, and the third female justice in the history of the Supreme Court (Greene, 14). This is a remarkable feat by any standards, and as she recounts in her book, My Beloved World, the journey to the Supreme Court was not easy. The book recounts her childhood, growing up in the projects in Bronx, through school, and through her career up until her appointment to the Supreme Court. Though one would expect a book by a person of her stature to contain jurisprudential and philosophical views, the book does not contain such and is talks more about the challenges she faced and how she overcame them.
Throughout the book, Sotomayor illustrates that she is more of a product of the society than her own making. Even though she acknowledges the efforts she put in becoming the person she is, she nevertheless attributes it to the society, especially her paternal grandmother, her relatives, and the institutions she got a chance to study in. Through the book, Sotomayor illustrates that education can and changes the fortunes of a person. That no matter the circumstances of person, through discipline, determination, hard work, right mentors, friends, and education, a child born in poverty can achieve great success and overcome all obstacles (Sotomayor, 17). She uses her own life experiences as an example.
Sotomayor was born in the projects of Bronx to parents who had migrated from Puerto Rico (Winter, 7). Both her parents had little education and hardly spoke English, thus Sotomayor herself had little knowledge of English as well. The parents also worked odd hours, especially her mother who worked night shifts occasionally (Sotomayor, 19). Though she was close to her father, he later became an alcoholic, which meant he became distant. Sotomayor thus had no mentors at home, though this role was filed by her grandmother whom she credits for giving her purpose and protection.
Though her mother had little education, she nevertheless instilled the value of education in her children. She even bought for them an encyclopedia. Her mother also insisted that Sotomayor and brother go to catholic schools. Despite the fact the Sotomayor initially blamed her mother for many things; she however acknowledges that had her mother not instilled the value of education in her, she probably would not have become the person she is. Accordingly, this shows it is important to not only teach children the value of education, but also ensure they apply it by going to school.
In the book, Sotomayor points to three key events in her childhood that changed her; her father’s alcoholism, her mother’s retreat to work, and being diagnosed with diabetes. Sotomayor explains that she was initially close to her father before he became an alcoholic. She remembers vividly how she looked forward to the shopping trips with her father, and the things he taught her such as buying meat and choosing fresh fruit. When her father turned to alcoholism, this meant that she lost a close friend as he became distant. The situation was compounded by the fact that her mother, who was already emotionally distant, retreated to work to avoid being with the family, and thus she became even more distant from Sotomayor.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, Sotomayor writes that she knew she did not have a lot of time left since at that time diabetes was perceived as a curse (Sotomayor, 71). Though these events were traumatizing to her as they would to any child, Sotomayor decided to make the best out of them. The events taught her self reliance, determination, hard work, and discipline. Self reliance is demonstrated by her learning to do her own insulin shots at the age of 8. Determination, hard work, and discipline are evident from the fact that she used the time she was alone to learn English and study for her future career. Of note is the fact that she picked her career from watching the television series Perry Mason, and was determined to achieve it.
Sotomayor writes that after being diagnosed with diabetes she felt that she would not live for long. Additionally, she also felt that people could not waste their time on her as she was not going to be there for long. This instilled a sense of urgency in her, and she was determined not to waste time. She thus utilized the time she had to achieve her goals. Since she felt that people had no time for her, she became more self reliant.
In the book, Sotomayor also talks about taking opportunities and chances availed. From the onset, she had very little and had she depended only on what she had, she would not have been the person she is. Sotomayor began to utilize opportunities from an early age, going to Catholic schools as her parents could not afford to put her through good schools. Though at some point it was believed that she got into Yale only because of affirmative action, Sotomayor does not otherwise justify her getting to Yale; she in fact does not see anything wrong with getting into Yale through affirmative action.
In conclusion, the book My Beloved World relates to children in the sense that it demonstrates that no matter the challenges a child has, they can overcome these challenges through their efforts and the society as well. To the child the book teaches hard work, determination, discipline, and self reliance. The book also teaches the society to avail mentors, opportunities, and chances to the child. The book shows that a combination of these things leads to success.
Greene, Meg. Sonia Sotomayor: A Biography. California: ABC – CLIO, LLC, 2012. Print.
Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013.
Winter, Jonah. Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx. New York: Simon & Schuster,