Taking Juan Flores’s premise of historical memory and lived experience to foundational to U.S. latinidad as a starting point, this article asks how twenty-first century second-generation Latina writing intervenes in contemporary understandings of U.S. latinidad as a pan-ethnic cultural field. It analyzes the narrative techniques, structures, and conventions through which contemporary Latinx writing engages ethnic memory and lived experience, considering how, and whether, those narrative conventions coalesce into a “poetics of latinidad.” Specifically, this article analyzes Jennine Capó Crucet’s Make Your Home Among Strangers (2015), a novel comprising two interlaced storylines that animate the categories “lived experience” and “historical memory.” The novel intertwines its protagonist, Lizet’s, lived experience as a second-generation Cuban-American and the fictionalized re-rendering of the Elián Gonzalez case, a historical event that has proved an inflection point for Cuban-American exile identity in the U.S., destabilizing Cubans’ status as an “exceptional” community in the U.S. Latinx migrant imaginary. Thus, this article argues that Capó-Crucet’s novel fashions a poetics of latinidad in key ways. Engaging Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory,” it analyzes how the interwoven stories of Lizet and Ariel Hernández (the fictionalized Elián González) repurpose the role of historical memory toward the narrative intelligibility of the second generation’s lived experience in the U.S. while recuperating and memorializing the first-generation’s experience of exile. It then situates this novel within a burgeoning corpus of twenty-first century Latina college narratives, including Patricia Cardoso’s Real Women Have Curves (2002), Meliza Bañalez’s Life is Wonderful, People are Terrific (2015), and Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath (2016). These texts rely on postmemory to address the experiences of second-generation Latina college students; Capó-Crucet’s novel articulates a poetics of latinidad in this intertextual framework.

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