"They say the island of Guam calls to her children who are lost. I believe I heard her call..." - Teresa Garrido Roberts
The above quote--written by the author of this timely, engrossing memoir--called to me from the back cover...just as the island called to Teresa throughout her life. It intrigued me...
Teresa's true story is written in clear, everyday language that started with happy memories of her father and family during childhood, quickly escalating to the frightening day he took her away for a day among strangers and then to the fateful day he disappeared from their lives.
He cried as hard as they did on the day he told them he had to leave and asked Teresa, only three at the time, to take care of her one-year-old sister Peggy. Neither Teresa, Peggy, their half-sisters nor mother Nikki understood why he had to leave, but she took her promise to heart.
Even though she was practically a baby herself, that moment in Teresa's life became the pivotal point for everything she ever did.
She missed her father desperately and always pondered the mystery surrounding his departure: Why did he have to leave them? Where was he? What was he doing? She even worried that he might be dead.
This author moved me with her honest, open style of writing. The father's tears made my own eyes blurry; it was obvious he loved his little girls and didn't want to leave them. But my heart almost broke for poor little Teresa who had to grow up much too quickly.
The pre-teens and teens were especially hard for the two sisters; being without a father, they seemed easy prey for all kinds of perverted men who tried to take advantage of them, especially Peggy. Teresa saved Peggy on many occasions...
Another thing that made it hard for Teresa is that she is dark like her Chamorro father who was from Guam, while Peggy is blonde and fair like their American mother. Prejudice being what it is, sadly, people noticed the difference and tormented Teresa in school...until she grew tough and showed them who was boss.
Even though their mother went on with her life, finally marrying, Teresa never forgot her father and pined for him for years, even when she carved out a successful career for herself (despite the fact she could not attend college). She was always there for Peggy, making sure her "baby sister" attended college and got her chance in this world.
Teresa always had a strong desire to uncover the truth about her father and wanted to travel to Guam to see what she could discover. The island was calling to her... In fact, from the depth of her emotions, it seemed to be screaming to her! She felt a strong emotional tie and when she finally arrived in Guam, she uncovered mind-boggling secrets...secrets that involved people in high places.
This bittersweet story has everything from romance to adventure, drugs, dirty money, prejudice and history (of Guam), but most of all it is a compassionate, inspiring story, showing what one young woman can achieve with discipline, faith, passion and determination.
It's all portrayed very realistically, but the ending seemed a little too mystical to me. Romantic, yes, but the "story of the flowers" seems a bit far out... However, I do believe in miracles, so I embraced each word of this inspiring story.
Felix Montanona Garrido was lucky to have a daughter like Teresa, a brave three-year-old who grew into a strong, compassionate woman who did so much on his behalf. This author certainly does keep her promises.
I gladly give this book five big, gold stars...
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, June 16, 2010 Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books
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Betty Dravis (bettydravis)
BETTY DRAVIS was born in Hamilton, Ohio, one of seven children of John and Felda Barger. Her natural writing ability was nurtured by a “great Ohio school system, caring teachers, and a loving family.” … more
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In 1972, Felix Garrido, the Guam-born father of Teresa and Peggy Garrido, extracts from three-year-old Teresa a promise to always take care of her little sister. Teresa vows that she will, and their father walks out of their lives. His last words to Teresa were that he would come back for them. He never does. Always with thoughts of her father in the back of her mind, with the hope that someday he would come back into their lives, Teresa begins to feel an emotional pull to the island of Guam. She hears the island calling to her. She needs to explore her heritage and to find their father - not only for herself, but for her little sister, Peggy. What Teresa finds instead is that their father is dead, and in a quest to clear his name, she discovers that he'd led a secret, dangerous life after leaving his family, a life that made it impossible for him to return to them.