At age twenty-four, Sara Alvarado bought a one-way ticket from the midwest to Mexico determined to heal from years of hard partying and sexual trauma.
In this raw and inspiring memoir, Sara takes readers on a journey as she struggles with being newly sober, unexpectedly in love – and then suddenly, terrifyingly pregnant. Guided from afar by her wise and loving mother and her emerging spiritual connection, Sara confidently (yet full of self-doubt) faces the complexity of a multicultural marriage and motherhood in a foreign country.
In vivid, storytelling prose, Sara shares the messy dance between cultures, classes, languages, traditions, white privilege, and a desire to belong. This epic love story confronts tough topics and uncertainty in an honest voice that is refreshing and witty.
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PRAISE FOR DREAMING IN SPANISH, A MEMOIR
“Dreaming in Spanish is the bitter, sweet, and sour of the complexity of life. A true story that is written with love, honesty, and grace. The story of a woman who embarks on an adventure to heal her soul and save her life. As she faces big challenges, uncertainty, romance, and love, but more than anything, a learning experience. With ugly truths but in the end, always truths. Truth is the best tool to create awareness of the problems we face as a society.”
—Marisol Gonzalez, Mexican writer, poet, Moth GrandSLAM storyteller, teacher, artist, book reviewer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur
“A stunner of a book, Sara takes us on an epic journey in multiple parts, in multiple lands, on multiple layers. But at its heart, make no mistake—this is a love story. Of young love, of loving on strangers, of loving place, of loving mothers, of loving spirit, of loving babies, of loving ourselves, and of learning to acknowledge mistakes made and opportunities to do better. Imperfectly, but with exquisite and extraordinary love.”
—Tanya Geisler, leadership coach and speaker
“It’s easy to love this vulnerable, tell-it-like-it-is healing journey. Alvarado’s self-discovery, self-compassion, and resilience buoy us all. I didn’t want to put this down.”
—Heidi Rose Robbins, author of Everyday Radiance: 365 Zodiac-Inspired Prompts for Self-Care and Self-Renewal
“Soul-filling! This enchanting story of hope, humanness, adventure, and love brings us face-to-face with our own understanding of what it means to surrender and begin to trust again. Sara Alvarado shares a story from Madison to L.A. to Mexico that allowed my soul to feel the weaving of courage, heartbreak, hope, strength, softness, and surrender on the same day. This memoir grabbed my heart.”
—Allison Crow, author of Unarmored: Finding Home in the Wild Edges of Being Human
“Dreaming in Spanish is one of those books that everyone on a healing journey should read. Through her story, Sara—with an authorial voice that is refreshing, witty, and radiates raw, authenticity—helps you remember the importance of having faith in where life takes you and to trust the reroutes even when life can feel maddeningly overwhelming. Sara articulates the complex emotions behind motherhood, love, sobriety, and spirituality—and, generally, navigating the twists and turns of being a human. But don’t get it twisted—this uplifting memoir is peppered with tequila shots, party drugs, and plenty of F-bombs. This is the spiritual book for the people that scoff at spiritual books, and I could not recommend it more.”
—Madi Murphy, co-founder of The Cosmic Revolution and Cosmic Rx
“Sara’s story shows us that what we lived through gives us the strength to confront the terrible things that we face in the present. This story is about the never-ending hope we need to have for ourselves if we are ever to do better than we did yesterday.”
—Araceli Esparza, cultural consultant, Latina mother, poet
“It’s one thing to break free of the forces of sexual assault and substance abuse, and quite another to bravely pursue a new kind of future, one of struggle but also joy, beauty, and lasting love. In this thoughtful and generous memoir, Alvarado reminds us of the profound power of second chances, courage, and self-acceptance. What begins as a careful recollection of misspent youth transforms into a messy and complicated love story—the best kind.”
—Susanna Daniel, author of Stiltsville and Sea Creatures
“Sara Alvarado’s memoir, Dreaming in Spanish, details her story from a Midwestern white girl who studies Spanish and tries to escape her demons with alcohol, men, and mischief by heading south of the border. Her brutal honesty, unforeseen tragedies, and ultimate redemption from her past serve as a reminder of how hard life really is, even with the privilege that skin color and economic status provide. Sara’s memoir is important to showcase that there are times in our lives, sometimes in the depths of our journey, when we can learn the most about ourselves.”
—Oscar Mireles, poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin (2016−2020)
“Sara Alvarado’s Dreaming in Spanish is equal parts a healing journey and love story that gives us permission to find the magic.”
—Amber Swenor, author of Unleashed: A Been-There, Rocked-That Guide to Radical Authenticity in Life and Business, founder of Soul Seed
“Dreaming in Spanish is at once relatable and inspirational. This epic love story is frank and vulnerable, and Sara’s insight and her unique way of viewing the world make it a must-read!”
—Ashley Quinto Powell, speaker, coach, and author of Executive Motherhood: The Art of Having It All Without Doing It All
“This book is for all women—women who were never given a script, for those who reject the script they were given, and for those who do not believe in one. It’s a book of adventure, but it’s also a book of self-love and, in the end, seizing on the freedom to become who you want to be. In her memoir, Sara Alvarado is honest and transparent while also being compassionate and, above all, comfortable with uncertainty and self-doubt, something we can all learn from.”
—Karen Menendez-Coller, CEO of Centro Hispano
“Sara Alvarado’s Dreaming in Spanish is a story of seeking and finding, asking hard questions like what love should look like and where home is. This story is everything you want in a memoir—frank, generous, wise, and open-hearted.”
—Michelle Wildgen, author of Wine People, You’re Not You, But Not For Long, and Bread and Butter
“Sara Alvarado’s memoir will speak to readers who know what it’s like to try and change while building a life we’re not sure we deserve. Alvarado is candid, curious, vulnerable, and present in the moments she shares. Dreaming in Spanish explores how people and moments affect how we react to and experience the world. You’ll grow reading it. I know I did.”
—Ann Garvin USA Today Bestselling author of There’s No Coming Back From This
“Often, moms squeeze into tight, neat, socially acceptable boxes out of fear of being seen as “unfit” or “unsafe.” We sanitize our stories and deny our humanity, hoping to be seen as “good” mothers. Through Dreaming in Spanish, Sara Alvarado gives us complexity and fullness and an invitation to be whole.”
—Sagashus Levingston, PhD, author of Infamous Mothers and Covet: the “Disrespectful” Health and Wellness Journal