On Family

Yesterday, I read the book Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival. Among many other things, it’s a novel about human connection and the relationship between daughter and mother, sister and sister, husband and wife. It’s about family. More importantly, it’s about family that doesn’t quite fit together, not in the traditional sense. Tita doesn’t get along with her mother, who expects her to stay unmarried in order to take care of her until she dies. Tita wishes to be more independent; she wants to fall in love and marry him and have her own family. In a way, I think she pushes against her mother so she doesn’t become her: angry, bitter, alone.

I had some issues with Like Water for Chocolate, but I felt for Tita. I understood her desire to get as far away from her mother’s ranch as she could. I ran myself–1200 miles away from home to study in a state I never thought I’d step foot in. Just so I could get away from everything back in Wisconsin. It’s easier to see how things have been when you’re no longer in the middle of them. And, it’s easier to see how much you need to let those things go in order to learn how to live. Ever since I was a teenage, I’ve been worried that there’s something in my blood that binds me to make the same mistakes my family has made. I vowed to break the cycle, and I’d like to believe I’m on the way towards doing that.

Like Water for Chocolate isn’t the only book that has reminded me of my own familial issues. I read a lot of books that revolve around family–especially ‘dysfunctional’ ones. I recognize the ways they break each other, the ways they pull each other apart using words rather than brute physical force. I guess I read them to feel less alone. It’s fucked up, but it’s refreshing to know that other families are as broken as mine are. It’s nice to see that other daughters who don’t speak to their mothers can somehow be okay in the end. 

I also read them, because I love seeing the ways that authors represent people’s desire to connect to other people. Books are a great way to understand who we are and why we do the things we do. I read to understand, and there’s a lot I haven’t understood lately, so I’ve been reading a lot. I don’t know if I understand anything any better, but I feel less alone.


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