Friday, August 26, 2022

Virtual Book Tour - The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story by Devin Meireles

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story by Devin Meireles. This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a fascinating guest post from the author. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story
Author: Devin Meireles
Publication Date: January 18th 2022
Print Length: 197 pages
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction
The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story is a narrative non-fiction book about the author’s family history—particularly the lives of their paternal ancestors from Sao Miguel Island in Portugal. The story begins with their great-grandparents before shifting focus to their paternal grandparents and their unconditional love for each other. Their relationship overcame many obstacles of the time and they were physically separated for nearly three years after leaving the homeland. They became immigrants in Canada—a place where the author found themselves born and raised, being something that they are grateful for yet fascinated to reflect on the history of how it happened.

Weaving a wonderful tale of the struggles and triumphs as well as the rich Portuguese culture of their ancestry, the book follows their grandfather, Vovô, who was the impetus for life in the New World. Embarking on the journey of lifetime, they carried out a mission guided by true love to carve out a fighting chance for the future of his family.

The author speaks on various characteristics embodied and behavioural traits that have shaped their sense of self today while forging a deep connection with their ancestors. Understanding more about themselves than anticipated along the way to show that it really is all in the family. The history that behooves us has been set out for those with the privilege to continue down the path—a sentiment that the author draws out with great detail. Their descriptions of events set the scene to take the reader back in time.

Sloshing over a damp, unpaved road through the village, each step in the mud brought her closer to him. She was donned in a black, hooded cape that covered her wholly from the misty rain. Her bright eyes glowed like a cat, reflecting off the sun that peaked through the overcast. Birds scattered for shelter, but the shifty weather could not deter her feelings. Flying parallel with the eagles that flew above the clouds, her heart soared just as high while her attentive gaze was focused ahead.

She was driven towards his warmth and kindness; he was the apple in her glittering eyes. When inhibition stood between, they denied their adoration for each other, fearing judgment from the townspeople. However, unbridled love saw no bounds and could not be withstood. Maria Angelina de Conceição Cabral, my bisavó (great-grandmother), defied taboo after falling in love with an older man. She encapsulated the earliest demonstration of nonconformity that I had uncovered.

Situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, on a remote utopia, her freguesia (village) was of a few hundred people that typically adopted conventional lifestyles of the time. On São Miguel Island, the islanders seldomly challenged the status quo. Their homeland is one of nine volcanic islands that make up the Azores archipelago, west of mainland Portugal. At one time or another, it was speculated to be the site of the mythical Atlantis, the lost city where buried treasures lie underwater. In whatever way, I had brought to light the legacy of my bisavó while searching for my family heritage.

She grew up hearing jarring tales of folklore and overseas conquests that contributed to the mystique of island history. Walking the storied coastline, haunted by generations passed, her journey’s end was approaching. She headed for the local variety store that sold everyday goods, where he ran day-to-day operations. As proprietor of the business, he was an influential member of the community whom she adored. As she came of age after the turn of the century, her heart was set on the middle-aged man, Manuel de Lima Meireles, my bisavô (great-grandfather). He was more than twenty years her senior.

“Bom dia, querida!” he greeted her as she stepped into the shop, stomping her wet feet on an entrance mat.

“Hello, darling. How are you?” she scrunched her cloak for excess moisture before entering the aisle. It was completely soaked beyond a beaver’s hat, but she was unfazed by the dampness.

“Todo bem, querida,” he gleefully answered at the sight of her. They locked eyes in a gentle stare as she took off the hood of her capote, the traditional garment for women. Her immaculate facial features came to light; healthy cheeks, fine lips with a sharp jawline, and those beautiful, starry eyes. A petite figure complimented her long, dark hair while she carried herself elegantly. As if the rain only helped her to bloom like a hydrangea. She surely enchanted the single men of her generation, but her heart was spoken for.
Devin Meireles is a healthcare administrative worker from Toronto that moonlights as a freelance writer. Apart from creative writing, Devin enjoys films, history, genealogy, and stamps in his passport. He wrote a narrative nonfiction book about his grandfather’s immigration story and has published many articles in literary journals and cultural magazines.

Writing About The Exceptional Immigrant
by Devin Meireles

What do we live for? Pardon my morbidly introspective inquisition but it’s something I think about.

While we carry on with each day, like any other, sometimes mundane as it may be, the course of events that transpire could make all the difference in the future. Simply said, we are making history everyday. Who knows whether our actions, or even opinions, can change somebody’s disposition or if anyone will remember what we stood for in life, but one thing is for sure—time will move on. Sadly, we will be gone like how the leaves blow away on a crisp fall morning.

None of us were built to last, so what happens to the history that we carried out?

Well, if not for the efforts of our family and friends, the truth is that we will be forgotten, buried deep among the long, lost history unbeknownst to us. Everyday we walk on the soil laid down by generations that preceded us. Without pondering on how things got this way, we enable the suppression of these important stories. Our memory’s sake depends on the living, so that’s what inspired me to write this book.

When my grandfather passed away, my inclination was to commemorate what he accomplished. To make sure that what he lived for counted for something. While my existence in itself is a testament to his success, being a Canadian-born national, I wanted to shine a light on his story.

To my realization, there was much that I misunderstood and the seams of his tightly knit chronicle began to unravel during my research. Genealogy essentially became a hobby. My discoveries brought me a deeper appreciation while my affinity for the man was an inspiration to preserve his fascinating life. What unfolded was a biography of the exceptional immigrant; a story about hope, perseverance, and true love. This project was my greatest tribute and I hope that readers can be inspired to do the same for their lost, loved ones.

So what do we live for?

If you ask me, it’s to leave a mark for those who will be staying behind after you depart. Without our ancestors, we are nothing.

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