Rose Hill: An Intermarriage Before Its Time

Rose Hill: An Intermarriage Before Its Time
Available as an e-book only.

By Carlos Cortés

“Dad was a Mexican Catholic. Mom was a Kansas City–born Jew with Eastern European immigrant parents. They fell in love in Berkeley, California, and got married in Kansas City, Missouri.

That alone would not have been a big deal. But it happened in 1933, when such marriages were rare. And my parents spent most of their lives in Kansas City, a place both racially segregated and religiously divided.

 Mom and Dad chose to be way ahead of their time; I didn’t. But because of them, I had to be. My mixed background meant that, however unwillingly, I had to learn to live as an outsider.”

The son of a Mexican Catholic father with aristocratic roots and a mother of Eastern European Jewish descent, Carlos Cortés grew up wedged between cultures, living a childhood in “constant crossfire-straddling borders, balancing loves and loyalties, and trying to fit into a world that wasn’t quite ready.” In some ways, even his family wasn’t quite ready (for him). His request for a bar mitzvah sent his proud father into a cursing rage. He was terrified to bring home the Catholic girl he was dating, for fear of wounding his mother and grandparents. When he tried to join a high school fraternity, Christians wouldn’t take him because he was Jewish, and Jews looked sideways at him because his father was Mexican.

In his new memoir, Rose Hill: An Intermarriage before Its Time, Cortés lovingly chronicles his family’s tumultuous, decades-long spars over religion, class, and culture, from his early years in legally segregated Kansas City during the 1940s to his return to Berkeley (where his parents met) in the 1950s, and to his parents’ separation, reconciliation, deaths, and eventual burials at the Rose Hill Cemetery. Cortés elevates the theme of intermarriage to a new level of complexity in this closely observed and emotionally fraught memoir adapted from his nationally successful one-man play, A Conversation with Alana: One Boy’s Multicultural Rite of Passage.

Copublished with the Inlandia Institute.


''[Cortes] compels us to take a deeper look into our own life journey.'' Ron Loveridge, mayor of Riverside and associate professor of political science, UC Riverside
''While Cortes offers what is, on one level, an intensely personal story, Rose Hill is chock-full of broader insight and universal wisdom.'' Joseph Zolner, senior director, Harvard Institutes for Higher Education
''Amazing, funny, sad, and totally memorable. Fascination and enjoyment are guaranteed.'' Barnett Helzberg Jr., author of What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett
''An inspiring story filled with hopes and dreams, heartbreak and frustration, deception and betrayal, devotion, and love.'' Chris Gifford, co-creator and executive producer for Nickelodeon's ''Dora the Explorer'' and ''Go, Diego, Go!''
''Part intrigue and mystery, part conflict and tension, part humor and love, and ultimately, a tale of acceptance and redemption.'' Sonia Nieto, author of Affirming Diversity
''A funny, honest, and ultimately celebratory look at what it feels like to grow up in the American melting pot. This unique memoir is not to be missed.'' Whitney Terrell, author of The King of Kings County
''Carlos Cortes has written a memoir which matches the distinctive and diverse history of his family--an engaging and far-traveling story populated with irascible and loving relatives whose lives illustrate a uniquely American story.'' Susan Straight, author of Take One Candle Light a Room
+ Show all reviews

About the Author

Carlos Cortés

Carlos Cortés

Carlos E. Cortés is a professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach about Diversity and is a creative/cultural advisor for Nickelodeon’s Peabody Award–winning children’s television series Dora the Explorer and its spinoff, Go, Diego, Go!, for which he received a 2009 NAACP Image Award. He performs his one-man autobiographical play, A Conversation with Alana: One Boy’s Multicultural Rite of Passage, across the country and has lectured widely throughout the world. He is general editor of Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


P.O. Box 9145Berkeley, CA 94709(510) 549-3564

vertical logo for Heyday Books

Newsletter Sign Up




Use code heyday20 at checkout!

click here to copy code

Privacy Preference Center