'If you ever want to understand the immigrant experience,' read this book

'A Cup of Water Under My Bed' by Daisy Hernandez
'A Cup of Water Under My Bed' by Daisy Hernandez
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Angela Maria Spring, the owner of Duende District, a new bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Angela Maria Spring has worked in bookstores for 16 years — in New Mexico, in New York and most recently at Washington D.C.'s storied Politics and Prose.

But now, she's trying something new: She's opening her own shop. Duende District will be a bookstore "owned, operated and managed by a majority of people of color," Spring said.

The publishing industry remains predominantly white, and the book-selling business isn't much different. "There are very few people of color who own bookstores," Spring said. And she wants to change that.

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She's starting Duende District as a pop-up store, with plans for a more permanent location within the year.

In the meantime, she's putting one book into the hands of everyone who stops by: Daisy Hernandez's memoir "A Cup of Water Under My Bed."

When she first picked it up, she thought she'd just get through a few chapters. Instead, "I sat down on a Saturday afternoon and I couldn't stop reading it until the very last page. And I just couldn't stop crying."

"Not only is [Hernandez] a brilliant writer, the way that she describes her story of growing up in an immigrant Latino family in the U.S. touched on so many things that mirrored my own experience," Spring said.

"First of all, she can turn a sentence like nobody's business, so it's a gorgeous, almost lyrical way of telling her story of growing up in New Jersey. And I hadn't read anything by a fellow Latina who was close to my age in a long time.

"I called my mother immediately and I was crying: 'I understand so many things now, I understand how I've been colonized in so many ways and how we've been separated from our language. I understand who I am so much better just because Daisy's book forced me to think about it in ways I hadn't before.'"

"And my mother was like: 'That's how I felt when I read "When I Was Puerto Rican" by Emeralda Santiago.' And it was just a really poignant moment between us."

"Not only is it a book that I think every Latino in America should read, but I also think if you ever want to understand the immigrant experience, and who we are as people, and how we grow up as Americans, and how we're continually considered 'other,' it is definitely a book everybody should read."

Reading Hernandez's book is one of the things that spurred Spring to move forward with her plan for Duende. The memoir, she said, is her shop's "La Patrona."

A Cup of Water Under My Bed A Cup of Water Under My Bed