Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor released her memoir "My Beloved World" earlier this month to mixed reviews.
In its review, the New York Times described the memoir as a "searching and emotionally intimate memoir . . . (that) has the power to surprise and move the reader. Whereas the justice’s legal writings have been described by reporters as dry, methodical and technical, this account of her life is revealing, keenly observed and deeply felt."
Times' critic Michiko Kakutani, in her review
entitled "The Bronx, the Bench and the Life in Between" continues, "Through evocative, plain-spoken prose Justice Sotomayor engages in an earnest, soul-searching look back at her childhood . . . She provides a visceral sense of what it was like to grow up with a dysfunctional family . . . and what it was like to grow up . . . in a neighborhood where stairwells were to be avoided (because of muggers and addicts shooting up), and where tourniquets and glassine packets littered the sidewalks."
Born and raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx, Sotomayor, 58, the child of Puerto Rican immigrants, overcame significant obstacles early on in life, having grown up in a crime-ridden housing project with an alcoholic father who died when she was only age 9.
Despite the impediments, Sotomayor excelled in school, propelling her to Princeton University, where she graduated summa cum laude, and later to Yale Law School, where she was an editor at the school's law journal.
Sotomayor went on to serve as an assistant district attorney in New York City. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush nominated Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Seven years later she was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, having been a President Bill Clinton nominee. In 2009, Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama and successfully confirmed, becoming the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice and third female justice.
Other critics, however, did not share the Times' acclaim for Sotomayor's memoir.
Reason.com's Damon W. Root, in his review
entitled "Sonia Sotomayor's Disappointing Memoir," was critical mostly of what the Supreme Court justice omitted.
Root observed that the memoir offers nearly "no discussion of Sotomayor’s many years as a federal judge and no mention of any sort of legal philosophy that might be guiding her approach to the law."
Root concludes, "Sotomayor is entitled to write any sort of thing she wants, of course, but it’s still a shame she didn’t follow the excellent examples recently set by Stevens and Thomas. Readers want to know what makes the justices of the Supreme Court tick, but that information is of little value when divorced from the legal and institutional context that made the justices so important in the first place. Let’s hope she writes a second volume somewhere down the line."
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