Ordinary Girls (Hardcover)

By Jaquira Díaz

Algonquin Books, 9781616209131, 336pp.

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

List Price: 26.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“There is more life packed on each page of Ordinary Girls than some lives hold in a lifetime.” —Julia Alvarez 

Ordinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

With a story reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Roxane Gay’s Hunger, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz delivers a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.

About the Author

Jaquira Díaz’s work has been included in The Best American Essays, and she is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the Kenyon Review, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the MacDowell Colony, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a visiting assistant professor in the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work appears in Rolling Stone, the Guardian, the FaderT: The New York Times Style Magazine, and other publications. 


Praise For Ordinary Girls

“[A] strong debut . . . gripping . . . Díaz’s empowering book wonderfully portrays the female struggle and the patterns of family dysfunction.”
Publishers Weekly

“A powerful memoir, heart-wrenching, inspiring, thoroughly engrossing, reminiscent of Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and more recently Tara Westover’s Educated. Through one family’s story, we learn about challenges of poverty, migration, uprootedness, addiction, sexism, racism--but also about the triumphant, spirited storyteller who survives to tell the tale. Jaquira Díaz is our contemporary Scheherazade, telling stories to keep herself alive and whole, and us her readers mesmerized and wanting more. And we get it: there is more life packed on each page of Ordinary Girls than some lives hold in a lifetime.”
—Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies

“A life story of astonishing honesty and beauty and power, a memoir of breath and rhythm and blood-red struggle, a book for everyone who has ever felt homesick inside their own skin, and for those who, like Díaz, sing the marvelous song of themselves at top volume.”
—Karen Russell, author of Orange World

“Jaquira Díaz writes about ordinary girls living extraordinary lives. And Díaz is no ordinary observer. She is a wondrous survivor, a woman who has claimed her own voice, a writer who writes for those who have no voice, for the black and brown girls 'who never saw themselves in books.' Jaquira Díaz writes about them with love. How extraordinary is that!”    
—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“Díaz blazes a bold path from the depths of the heart and guts of girls up through their fiercely beautiful throats into unstoppable song. Ordinary Girls risks dipping into family fractures, identity traumas, and the strained lines between cultures with language so fierce in places I bit my tongue, so tender in places I felt humming in my skin. Sometimes the repressed, oppressed girl, against all odds, goes back to get her own body and voice. This book will save lives.”
Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

“Jaquira Díaz is an unstoppable force. Her writing is alive with power. I stand in awe of what she brings us. The future is here.” 
Luís Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels