Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands

Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands
Paper Over Board, 7.25 x 10.25, 248 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145794.

By Lawrence Downes , Linda Ronstadt

In Feels Like Home, Grammy award-winning singer Linda Ronstadt effortlessly evokes the magical panorama of the high desert, a landscape etched by sunlight and carved by wind, offering a personal tour built around meals and memories of the place where she came of age. Growing up the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and a descendant of Spanish settlers near northern Sonora, Ronstadt’s intimate new memoir celebrates the marvelous flavors and indomitable people on both sides of what was once a porous border whose denizens were happy to exchange recipes and gather around campfires to sing the ballads that shaped Ronstadt’s musical heritage. Following her best-selling musical memoir, Simple Dreams, this book seamlessly braids together Ronstadt’s recollections of people and their passions in a region little understood in the rest of the United States. This road trip through the desert, written in collaboration with former New York Times writer Lawrence Downes and illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs by Bill Steen, features recipes for traditional Sonoran dishes and a bevy of revelations for Ronstadt’s admirers. If this book were a radio signal, you might first pick it up on an Arizona highway, well south of Phoenix, coming into the glow of Ronstadt’s hometown of Tucson. It would be playing something old and Mexican, from a time when the border was a place not of peril but of possibility.

Reviews

"One of the key questions of Feels Like Home [is] how to validate long-term attachments to and senses of place that are nevertheless those of settlers. This is an important question for US readers, whose familial connections to this country’s legacy of Indigenous dispossession are often left unknown or are blurred behind the discourse of a nation of immigrants. Ronstadt holds the two in tension." Los Angeles Review of Books
"Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands [...] is a way to explain why the arid land that starts in Arizona and stretches into Mexico's west coast is [Ronstadt's] foothold in the world. It's a story she has told through music, and now want to tell — as much as she can — through food." New York Times
"Reading Feels Like Home is a tactile experience that employs the senses. It begins with its beautiful design as a smaller-size coffee table book, printed on fine, thick paper and filled with full-color family photographs and scenes from the Sonoran Borderlands. Twenty recipes, arranged by theme and broken up into batches, follow various sections of the book. These recipes allow readers to experience something that Ronstadt thoroughly enjoys; it is a unique form of immersion into her story through the taste and aroma of food." BookTrib
"Feels Like Home issues an invitation to sit a while and listen as Ronstadt regales us with warm stories of the ones she loves, the places woven into the fabric of her being, and the food and music that sustain us all." No Depression
"In 2013, Ronstadt wrote a more traditional memoir about her career titled Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir [...] Her new book, however, goes much farther back, diving into her personal history, tracing her family’s Mexican roots in Sonora, and fondly recalling how her musical childhood in Arizona shaped her as a performer." Woman's World
"Informative yet casual, reading the book feels like a day hanging out with Ronstadt while being amazed by her ordinary demeanor [and] lack of pretense despite her wealth and fame." Cleburne Times-Review
"Linda Ronstadt's Feels Like Home is an album of loves for the high desert of Sonora and her hometown of Tucson, shown through photos by Bill Steen and pages of her own recollections of family and friends and even—or maybe that's especially—recipes that bring family and friends together with echoes of each other." NPR
"Chock-full of the Mexican ranch recipes Ronstadt learned at home, [Feels Like Home] also recalls a time before walls and politics had driven a wedge between a culture she remembers as 'fluid,' when the Southwest was communal rather than rife with cultural conflict." The Daily Beast
"Feels Like Home expands on the theme of her musical memoir, Simple Dreams, which was published in 2013. Along with the personal stories that Ronstadt has never before told in full about her ancestors and her childhood in the 1950s and ’60s, she also draws attention to the border politics that have impacted the lives of so many immigrants and refugees." San Francisco Chronicle
"The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and descendant of Spanish settlers, explores her family history and the complicated relationship between the US and Mexico in her new book, Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands. [...] In the book and in conversation, her continuing love for the music and culture she grew up with shines through." Esquire
"Feels Like Home is a memoir with food and a travel book about a handful of families. Ronstadt is at the book’s center, providing a deep understanding of what life was like for those hardy people who settled in the Sonoran desert many years ago, as well as the Indigenous people who lived there for centuries longer." Orange County Register
"[Feels Like Home] is a travelogue, a memoir, a family history, a photo study, and a cookbook that will transport you to the vast dessert that links Arizona and Mexico." Boston Globe
"[Feels Like Home] is most easily described as a memoir. [...] In reality the book is many things at once. It’s a portrait of a place, the Sonoran Desert, and it’s a genealogy of sorts, an archival romp through Ronstadt’s family history. It’s about music: 'How a singer is both born and made, learning by singing and being sung to,' in the words of her co-author, the journalist Lawrence Downes. But it’s also about food." Abby Aguirre, Vogue
"Feels Like Home is a celebration of culture, music, geography, food and family ties that know no borders. It is eloquently told by a singer who has devoted much of her career to transcending musical borders [...] [Ronstadt's] memoir is a valentine to her family and the Mexican heritage she has long celebrated in words and music." San Diego Union-Tribune
“[Feels Like Home] is a very sweet-hearted book [...] it hits a lot of sweet spots for what is kind of the perfect coffee table book.” Mark Athitakis, on KJZZ Radio
"Feels Like Home invites us on an exquisite journey of beauty, adventure and history. It’s a magical trip you don’t want to miss. This book will fill your heart, your soul and your spirit. We need that now more than ever." Dolores Huerta, labor organizer and civil rights activist
"Linda Ronstadt, known for her exquisite voice and incredible range of musical genres, looks to her family and the ancestral Sonoran borderlands to illuminate her storied career. Feels Like Home is personal and revealing—with vivid portraits of her forebears who immigrated first to Northern Mexico and then Tucson, Arizona, with striking photographs, family letters, and an array of recipes and songs, she weaves together an unforgettable tale of her life and talented musical family. This is quintessentially an American story—touching, and well worth reading." Jerry Brown, former governor of California
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Categories Memoir | New Releases

About the Authors

Lawrence Downes

Lawrence Downes

Lawrence Downes is a writer and editor in New York. For more than thirty years, he worked in newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, and the New York Times, where he was an editor and member of the editorial board, specializing in issues about immigration, New York City and state politics and government, disability rights, veterans affairs, and the environment.

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt, the great-granddaughter of Friedrich and Margarita Ronstadt of Sonora, Mexico, is one of the world’s most acclaimed singers. Her six-decade career encompassed rock, folk, country, light opera, Mexican songs and American standards. She has sold more than 100 million records, won 12 Grammy awards and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, directed by Rob Epstein, just won a Grammy for best musical film at the 63rd Grammy Awards on March 14, 2021.

Ronstadt is writing a new book that has been acquired by Heyday and is set to release in Fall 2022.

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