In Maria Gutierrez’s family, kitchens are where traditions are created and shared, the conversation and storytelling are lively, and tiny demonstrations of love are served daily. In Las Abuelas, she has penned a love letter to her mother and a tribute to the women on both sides of her family who instilled a deep appreciation for food and story that is passed down from generation to generation.
Through retellings of family lore and captivating glimpses into the kitchens of her formidable forebears, Gutierrez maps her female ancestors through their recipes. “This is how my family gives love to one another: through bread, empanadas, tamales, fried chicken, and lemon meringue pies,” she observes. Generously, Gutierrez offers not only tantalizing descriptions of these beloved family dishes, but shares the recipes for them as well.
In detail-rich prose and poetry, Gutierrez offers a feast that nourishes heart, soul and stomach, capturing her family’s legacy of strong women and mouthwatering meals. Readers will come away feeling the fullness of love and hungry for a home-cooked meal.
Maria Gutierrez was raised in Southern California as part of a large Mexican American family. She received her BA from Pomona College and her MPA from The Evans School at University of Washington. Maria currently lives in Seattle with her husband and her dog. She enjoys reading, long neighborhood walks, and cooking one-pot soups.
Where is home when you’re the daughter of immigrants? When is it safe to say you’re gay? Author and poet Catherine Bachy has been traversing cultures all her life. Bicultural and bilingual from birth, she often finds herself in between worlds, sensitive to the sideways looks aimed at families like hers who aren’t quite like the others, alert for the subtle cues that affirm, “This is where you belong.” In Guardians, Bachy has crafted a compelling collection of lyrical essays that blend the personal, political, and spiritual, piecing together the touchstones that serve as the foundation for her identity.
Bachy’s father was an inspiration for writing her book. “He was an artist,” she says, “and left us many paintings and drawings, through which we appreciate his vision of the world. He didn’t make it to sixty, the age I am turning as Guardians is being published.” Reaching sixty felt like an opportune time to share her own creative work and worldview. Pondering the habit she picked up after her father’s passing of memorizing and reciting poems, she observes, “These poems that dwell in my mind are my prayers: hope, acceptance, healing, and love. Maybe my father planted them there when he left and now, they have grown into trees.”
With detail-rich prose and poetry, Bachy has cultivated a captivating garden of stories in Guardians, tracing themes of love, longing, and belonging that resonate across cultures and generations.
Bicultural and bilingual from birth, Catherine Bachy often finds herself between worlds. Growing up, she journeyed between France and the US, graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in French. She taught English in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer, and taught writing at the University of Massachusetts. An executive coach at the University of Washington, Catherine also holds an MEd from the University of Massachusetts and an MA in Organizational Leadership from Seattle University. Catherine celebrates her deep love of France by flipping crêpes every year on Chandeleur with her family and friends. She shares her life with her wife and daughter and their two chihuahuas in Seattle, Washington.
Moving from Hawai‘i to Fresno in seventh grade changed Adrienne Robillard’s view of the world, herself, and her future. Being a new kid in a new school meant hours of time alone spent listening to cassette tapes and college radio, learning to play the guitar, and writing stories and lyrics. Joining a garage band in high school gave her a sense of belonging she’d never realized possible as she wrote songs with strangers who became treasured friends—one of whom she ended up marrying. Maps and Tapes follows Robillard from San Francisco to the UK, criss-crossing the US and Europe, feeling at home in a van on both sides of the road.
In Fresno, “I went from having friends and blending in to being a loner who kept getting asked, ‘What are you?’ because I was one of a few half-Asian students at Ahwahnee Middle School,” she recalls. “With my headphones on, I could ignore uncomfortable questions.” Later, music became her primary creative outlet and a way for her not to hide, but to connect.
In Maps and Tapes, Robillard interweaves lyrics written for her indie-rock bands between stories of first guitar lessons, young love, adventures in studying abroad, and gigging and touring with her bands. Her poignant prose paints a vivid portrait of the ways in which music soundtracked and shaped her teen and young adult years. Her callouts of favorite bands, albums, and songs will make readers want to cue up their own nostalgic playlists—good and loud, to be felt in the bones, the way the best music and memories should.
Adrienne Robillard is an English lecturer at Windward Community College. She grew up in Kailua, Hawai‘i, and Fresno, California. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. After college she worked in San Francisco as an office temp and marketing professional by day, playing in indie bands Secadora and Citizens Here and Abroad at night. She lives with her husband and their two children in Kailua on O‘ahu. In 2020 her first book, The ‘Ohana Grill Cookbook: Easy and Delicious Hawai‘i-Inspired Recipes from BBQ Chicken to Kalbi Short Ribs, was published by Ulysses Press.
A fragmented childhood filled with heartbreak and disappointment left Valdeane Uchima Odachi feeling lost at sea, at the mercy of unseen currents. In this moving collection of personal reflections and whimsical poetry, Navigating Change follows Odachi as she discovers moments of grace and synchronicity while struggling to reconcile her multiple roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher and caregiver. Her journey’s unanticipated reward is a renewed self-identity and the realization that she has always had everything she needs to live the life she wants.
Odachi unexpectedly took on the role of caregiver when her husband was suddenly diagnosed with complicated and frustrating medical problems. “Initially, I thought I would write a book for my children and to document the challenges of having an older spouse with health issues and dementia,” she says. But, upon reading her early drafts, “I found my writing was so focused on the unhappiness I experienced—I didn’t enjoy reading that version of my memoir.” Instead, Odachi chose to shift her mindset and her book’s focus to recognize the moments that changed her. The story of her life transformed as she wrote and wrestled with complex and layered emotions concerning events in her past and her life’s current path. “Writing both versions allowed me to process the ongoing grief and recognize the grace that occurs in my life,” she reflects.
In Odachi’s heartfelt vignettes, readers will recognize the pain of adolescence, the joy of motherhood and the conflict inherent in reconciling the role of caregiver with maintaining a sense of self.
Valdeane Uchima Odachi is a postsecondary academic counselor and educator who hated school as a child but now holds various credentials ranging from a Hawai‘i state license in massage therapy to a master of arts in teaching from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Raised in Wahiawā, O‘ahu, she currently lives in Volcano, Hawai‘i Island, with her family and their two dogs, Bowie and Mika Shrimpface. She enjoys teaching the art of Zentangle®, organizing and removing clutter from her home and spending time with family. Navigating Change is her first book.