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Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “World” is a Big Hit

February 11, 2013
Plain English Version

Sonia Sotomayor is a United States Supreme Court Justice. President Obama appointed her in August of 2009. She is the first Hispanic and the third woman ever appointed as a justice.

She has written the story of her life called “My Beloved World.” Her rise in the legal profession is described in the book. Critics and readers say it is a heartfelt account of a life filled with obstacles she overcame.

Born in the Bronx, New York, she is the child of Puerto Rican parents. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother avoided dealing with their life by working long hours. At the age of seven, she became diabetic and learned to give insulin injections to herself.

The Bronx of her youth was dangerous. Even walking down the street was hazardous. There were drugs and gangs everywhere.

Justice Sotomayor credits her grandmother with giving her “refuge from the chaos at home.” This allowed her “to just imagine the most improbable of possibilities for my life.” She said, “I was a keen observer and listener. I picked up on clues. I figured things out logically, and I enjoyed puzzles. I loved the clear, focused feeling that came when I concentrated on solving a problem.”

In college at Princeton University, she realized she needed to improve her English, which was “riddled with Spanish construction and usage.” She went on to devote her lunch hours to grammar exercises. She learned 10 new words a day. She also read the classics, such as “Huckleberry Finn” and “Pride and Prejudice.”

Entering adult life, Justice Sotomayor went to Harvard Law School. She became interested in the law while watching the television show “Perry Mason.” She believed she had to overcome many shortcomings and left nothing to chance.” She prepared intensively for classwork and legal cases. She became a star student.

She calls herself a “creature of rules.” When she came across things that caused her “fevered insecurity,” she followed up by “ferocious compensatory efforts.”

Visiting bookstores and speaking to readers has made her something of a “rock star.” She relates to and empathizes with her audience. She speaks directly to young people about how to make the most of their lives.

Justice Sotomayor is seen as an inspiration to immigrants even though she is not one. Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Serving as a role model “is the most valuable thing I can do,” she said. “My Beloved World” is now #1 on the best-seller list.

The New York Times

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