• Once I Was You

  • A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America
  • By: Maria Hinojosa
  • Narrated by: Maria Hinojosa
  • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (464 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NPR’s Best Books of 2020

BookPage’s Best Books of 2020

Real Simple’s Best Books of 2020

Boston.com readers voted one of Best Books of 2020

“Anyone striving to understand and improve this country should read her story.” (Gloria Steinem, author of My Life on the Road)

The Emmy Award-winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis in this memoir that is “quite simply beautiful, written in Maria Hinojosa’s honest, passionate voice” (BookPage).

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who, for nearly 30 years, has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media - from tales of hope in the South Bronx to the unseen victims of the war on terror and the first detention camps in the US. Best-selling author Julia Álvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community”.

In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations - charging us with the broken system we have today.

An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, this honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth.

Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú

©2020 Maria Hinojosa (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

Featured Article: Powerful Latino Stories in Biographies & Memoirs


In modern America, the interchangeable use of the words "Hispanic" and "Latino" blends two identities that are inherently unique in their own right. While Hispanic refers to those who speak Spanish, Latino generally denotes geography, referring to people of Latin American descent. This collection seeks to embody a few Latino narratives from authors descended from Latin America. Go on an inspirational journey with each listen.

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What listeners say about Once I Was You

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Fabulous!!

Maria illuminates her personal story in a frank and meaningful way. Historical events woven into the story provide a framework for her commitment to humanity, to authentic story telling and for finding a way to help the under represented & misunderstood immigrant communities. It’s a genuine call to action for those looking to make a difference in their own communities.

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What an amazing story & historical information!

The heart and soul of the story will forever stay with me. I will read this again very soon, though, to better absorb the historical narrative on immigration which Maria gave. I wish this was taught to us so we can contribute to helping correct our country's broken practices.

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Such a good book!!

María Hinojosa reads the book herself which feels like she’s talking to you on the couch. She tells her life story,while also going deep into immigration history in the United States and also shares stories from people she’s come across. I didn’t even know much about her before hearing the book but was interested in the immigration information, however I got so much more than I expected from this book. I recommend it to everyone!

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Truly beautiful story!

Thank you so much, Maria for sharing your story. For being so vulnerable. You’re an inspiration. Viva la Raza!!

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Moving and enlightening!

Enjoyed Maria’s story of how she evolved and the historical review of immigration policies. No me voy!

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Excellent!

I have to admit that I’m a long time fan of Maria Hinojosa, and this book exceeded my expectations! I loved listening to her tell her story, and in the process also teach me so much about the realities of immigration. Highly recommend!

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an amazing recollection of a journey

I was mesmerized by Maria's experiences, and I have been a fan for years. I am grateful for her sharing of horrifying events, and I, too, am a survivor. I'm grateful to know that I'm not the only one. I will continue to be a fan. Many Blessings, Maria!!! Y me quedo con ustedes!!!

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Great reading

Loved every bit of it. This book has many parallels to my life. ¡Maria, gracias! Aprendí mucho. I learned a lot from it. I always admired you but now I admire even more!

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María is a light!

On this very personal inspiring book where we travel thru Maria's life story framed around historical facts...grounds you and helps you understand and see your life story on a greater context with the importance to know it's possible if you know the power of community...

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wow

seriously, one of my absolute favorite memoirs. she is truly a super woman and makes me so proud to be a Latina.