Enedina Pérez-Reed is a success story for young Latinas whose childhoods were trapped in strict Mexican immigrant households.
Pérez-Reed grew up in the U.S. under her father’s extreme rule. She came to hate the “well-dressed, good-looking” man who “always wore a Mexican sombrero” because of the constant tormenting and physical and emotional abuse.
She survived to become a wife and mother, a college graduate and educator. She’s grown stronger over the years, but the memories of her childhood remain.
Those experiences are detailed in ‘Out of the Shadows,’ a book she wrote in 2015 (Heritage Publishing). A Spanish-language version, ‘Saliendo de las Sombras’ was released last year.
She was smuggled to the U.S. as a youngster inside a box of flowers.
“I had no idea what to expect,” she wrote, “but they certainly made it sound like it was a magical place.”
Soon, she was forced to deal with an abusive father. She was about 9 years old dealing with emotional distress and domestic violence. She vividly writes about the days of a Mexican immigrant and farmworking family settling in south Sanger, where 10 relatives lived in a three-bedroom home.
Pérez-Reed remembers her family receiving plastic bags filled with donated clothing. Despite the used clothing, she speaks of the excitement and eagerness in digging into the bags. She also writes of her early school years as a gifted math student who was bullied because she didn’t speak English.
It would take years for Pérez-Reed to fight back and overcome her situation. She became homeless, yet accomplished her goal of higher education. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
“I would just start writing about my experiences and how I got through those difficulties,” said Pérez-Reed, who transcribed her memories onto a manuscript.
“And I would share that information with my students. I would tell them there are some rough patches throughout our lives. This is how I got through it. You can get through it.”
Despite her writing to help her heal, it took more time for Pérez-Reed to forgive. She shared the manuscripts with a pastor, who convinced Pérez-Reed to write a book.
“During that time, I grew a lot. I did a lot of writing during that time too,” she recalls.
“The person I used to be ceased to exist in my new home. I no longer knew who I was,” she wrote.
Pérez-Reed is a learning director in the Selma Unified School District, not far from Sanger, where she was raised.
After each section, the author printed a reflection page asking readers to: Reflect, Examine, Apply, Learned, Motivation. The lesson is nothing less than Pérez-Reed being what she is, a lifelong educator.
Pérez-Reed is married to Lt. Col. James Reed III, a U.S. Army officer who has seen deployment in two campaigns. Reed is also a high school principal. They have three children: Joe, 21, Jim, 18, and John, 16.