A borough author has penned a new memoir about her resiliency in the face of personal adversity.
Yolanda Alvarez, a Throggs Neck resident who is a volunteer in the borough’s court system, recently released her memoir about coming-of-age with an abusive father and other challenges.
The literary treatment of the subject covers her upbringing in Tremont and Fordham in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a period during high school in which she temporarily escaped the grip of her alcoholic and sexually abusive father and thrived while attending high school at Bayport, Long Island.
Alvarez hopes that the book conveys an uplifting message: that despite what challenges a person may have to endure, they can succeed.
The book’s high point is reached when she becomes the first of her family to receive a high school diploma, while she was in foster care, shattering stereotypes of what she was capable of as a young Latina who had also been abused.
“I wrote the book to inspire others and to tell my story,” said Alvarez. “I wanted others to see that anything was possible if you want it bad enough.”
Alvarez hopes that No Excuses will be the first installment of an autobiographical trilogy. The other two books would delve into different phases of her life.
Many of the strong recollections she shares in No Excuses were culled from the diaries she kept religiously since she was 14-years-old.
“This book talks about the adults in my life failing me, including my mom and dad,” she said, adding they were both affected by alcoholism and mental illness.
The crimes she accuses her dad of were never adequately punished.
Her father was never really taken to task by law enforcement for his pedophilia, said Alvarez, adding he would spend a day or two in jail and then be released.
“The laws were very different in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Alvarez, adding that many times her father, who is now deceased, frequently had money for booze but not for food.
The author said she received a sort of catharsis in writing the book, believing that by writing about her trauma, she could set herself free, while at the same time help others.
“It was difficult to write about it because I had to re-live it all over again, but at the same time it set me free and I feel that if I can help someone else have a voice through my book then I have accomplished what I set out to do.”
She feels that the borough definitely acts as more than a setting and is almost a character for most of the book.
“There are a lot of good things that come out of the Bronx,” she said. “I love Throggs Neck – it is more of a village than a neighborhood – and there are so many wonderful places in the Bronx.”
She holds a masters degree in history from Lehman College, and she gave a commencement address at the college in 2009, she said.
Alvarez said she hopes to attend law school, and hopes that one day her grandson is able to read the book and be proud of his grandmother.
The book is available from Stillwater River Publications and can be found in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.