This story is written in the not often used second-person POV. A young woman completes high school, goes to college, does not get married, goes to graduate school, dates another Latino, etc. The story covers several years of the Cuban-American main character's life. Along the way she learns about her identity and the gaze of the majority white population. We listen to her navigate the American sociological landscape from Florida to the Northeast to the Midwest.Assumptions, stereotypes and ignorance weigh the narrator along with the efforts not to disappoint her parents and friends back home. There's nothing revelatory here about the difficulties of a Cuban-American woman but the POV makes it interesting and gives a tone of regret or acquiescence. The narrator struggles with attitudes, her own as well as others, and attempts to find success and maybe happiness.
This story was first published in Epoch and subsequently in PEN / O'Henry Prize Stories, 2011.
Alice LaPlante in her book, The Making of a Story, categorizes 2nd person POV into 4 types: "you" as an inverted form of first person; "you" refers to a specific character; "you" as a direct address to the reader and "you" as an attempt to turn the reader into an active character.
"How to Leave Hialeah" is the first type. The narrator is clearly giving a biographical account of her life at least ten years hence.
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