Witty and original title for a blog post about Mean

Growing up in our modern society has its up and downs, as there are expectations one must meet to be “successful”. Throughout the first section of “Mean”, Myriam Gurba details her life story and discusses what it was like growing up in California, and the unique experiences she went through. She does not fit in with the “normal” crowd, as she is very different from them in various ways. During my reading of the first section of this novel, I noticed a pattern of Gruba dealing with circumstances most girls do not.

In one instance, Gurba was sitting in her school’s cafeteria and she noticed a boy was smiling at her. Like any social person, she attempts to talk to this boy for him to use a racial slur to describe the size of her lips (23). What’s peculiar about this exchange is that she was stereotyped as an African American, when in reality, she is Mexican. This shows that ignorance shows no boundaries, that all minorities are associated with one another and can’t break free of racial stereotypes and slurs. The most interesting part of this situation is that Gurba explains from where she got her puffy lips from – from her half polish father (23). Poland is a white country, and yet this boy made fun of Gurba for having those traits.  This situation shows the challenge of growing up in America as a minority, being put down because of the color of her skin. She is judged on the look of her lips because her skin is shades darker than the boy’s was. This exchange alone shows how different Gurba’s life is from most other people, she deals with blind, ignorant racism.

An event that had a big impact on Gurba was when she was molested by her peer, Macaulay. She was touched in broad daylight and did not give any form of consent to allow it (32). She discusses how he used many different ways to make her uncomfortable during class, he even used a pencil sometimes! Their teacher did not do a thing about it, as he just pretended that he didn’t see it and would continue on with the class. The touching still has an impact on Gurba, as she details that the event is always with her, so she’s never “alone” (33). She had to deal with this while growing, and even after maturation, she’s still dealing with the effect of the touching on her mental health. She also brings up how the deaths of Mendieta and Sophia have had an impact on her too, as they were “touched to death by men” (33). The survivor’s guilt she lives with takes a massive toll on her mental health, and stunts progress for her. Not many kids deal with survivor’s guilt while growing up, but here Gurba does and she has to live out the rest of her days with it. 


Myriam Gurba has lived a difficult life to this point, she starts out this novel by giving play by play analysis of watching her friend Sophia be raped and murdered on a baseball field. She has faced many difficulties most people don’t have to in their lifetime, and she went through this as a child. Gurba clearly does not fit the normal mold of a girl growing up, she does not fit into any stereotypical social clique (like in the movie Mean Girls). She, despite all this, did persevere and become successful, but still has to live with the survivor’s guilt and PTSD that came from her childhood.


What do you think of the awful events that shaped Gurba’s life?






8 thoughts on “Witty and original title for a blog post about Mean”

  1. I think it is very interesting how the narrator stereotypes other minorities. “What’s peculiar about this exchange is that she was stereotyped as an African American, when in reality, she is Mexican. This shows that ignorance shows no boundaries, that all minorities are associated with one another and can’t break free of racial stereotypes and slurs.” It is as if the narrator feels empowered to put other races down although she faces the same discrimination. Growing up half Mexican and half polish has made her feel like she is stuck in the middle.
    Great blog post!

  2. You mentioned how it was odd that the boy stereotyped her as an African American because of the shape of her lips, which she got from her white father. This racial stereotyping is seen a few times throughout the first section of the story. Another example of this is on page 20 when the girls use racial slurs against Mexicans towards Ida. This is strange, as she is not Mexican.
    The awful events that shaped Gurba’s life were hard to read. No child should have to deal with such traumatic events growing up. However, they must have shaped who she is as an adult. The fact that these can be recalled in such detail shows how scarring they were for a child, yet she was able to overcome these events.
    Great blog post!

  3. The narrator stereotypes other minorities but I find it interesting how she also stereotypes gender. She calls herself an “Early-onset feminist” because she doesn’t want the “Stupider sex” to join in on her club.
    I also find it interesting that the narrator has to identify a persons race every time a new person from her life is introduced. She refers to her next door neighbors as the “White mom” and the “White dad”. Also, when she describes Emily’s nightgown as the one “Nellie Oleson wore in that episode of Little House on the Prairie” it shows how stereotypical she is towards other races because in that series, Nellie is portrayed as the daughter of a wealthier white family who is snobby and rude.
    You’re blog was really good and I really enjoyed reading it!! Good Job!!!

  4. I may have misread the first part of the book. While reading “Wisdom”, I got the sense that the author did not know Sophia personally. Or, at least, she wasn’t present when the murder occurred. The author seems empathetic towards the victim, and she is able to write about Sophia’s experience with amazing—and terrifying—clairity. It is also important to note that sexual abuse isn’t as uncommon as we would all like to believe. One in five girls are sexually abused—girls, not women— according to http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics
    It is unclear how accurate this data may be, as the website does not provide adequate details on this statistic. However, this number—1 in 5—is thrown around a lot when it comes to sexual assault statistics. Here is another website that sites this statistic: https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics
    It is important to note that not all sexual assault cases are reported, and there seems to be bias in the judicial system when it comes to processing sexual assault cases. Gurba isn’t the only person in the world to experience sexual assault, and she makes this clear by listing many, many other cases of assault in her book. It is very hard to read, but like a trainwreck, I can not look away. I am horrified, but I know that these kinds of things happen. Personally, I think that it is important to stay informed (if you can). This book is just one of many ways to gain perspective.

    1. I forgot to include quotes from the text, so I will continue my post here. Forgive me, I am lamenting upon a lot of topics right now. This is a heavy subject to discuss, as are many of the subjects that we cover in this class. On page three, Gurba comments, “Sophia is always with me. She haunts me.” Quotes like this stand out to me, because they imply a sense of empathy. It is one thing to say that someone is always on your mind—it is another to say that they haunt you. When someone haunts you, they occupy a piece of your soul. They are there—they are you. To see them walk beside you, you must take them within you. You must empathize with them. Gurba seems to embody Sophia’s story in the chapter, “Wisdom”. She tries to do her justice by bringing her story to life, rather than reducing her to a “transient”. To quote you, Gurba “has to live out the rest of her days with it. “. She lives her life with this story etched into her soul. I am not sure if I should call it a “burden”, but it is clear that this story weighs heavily upon Myriam Gurba.

  5. I really enjoyed your post. I liked your analysis of the obstacles that Myriam faces in her youth. I really liked how you highlighted the situation with her peer, Macaulay. This part really stood out to me as it gave me chills to think that a teacher could just look the other way in the situation. The whole beginning of this novel is really hard to read as it is very surreal. It creates this feeling in the reader that is more than just sympathy. Overall, great post and excited for your presentation.

  6. I find this idea of the narrator stereotyping other minorities super interesting! This quote really made me think about the tone that was throughout this part of the book. “The most interesting part of this situation is that Gurba explains from where she got her puffy lips from – from her half polish father (23). Poland is a white country, and yet this boy made fun of Gurba for having those traits.” She gets made fun of for having puffy lips by someone using a racial slur. No one should have to go through that but since she did it evolved her into the person she is as we are reading. Great post!! 🙂

  7. I agree with you that Gurba has lived a life around people who would seek to make her’s miserable specifically because of the way she looks. In the scene where she is harassed by a boy because of her puffy lips, which were in fact from her half-polish father; Gurba is showing the audience that she is not always even afforded a race or ethnicity. She is only seen as a minority regardless of her true circumstances. Because of this sad truth, Gurba shows that she was disturbingly unprotected as a child. Dealing with sight of her friend being raped and murdered on a baseball field, to being sexually assaulted in class, in front of a teacher; just to have a him ignore it like it never even happened. However these tragedies in her life are also testaments to her mental strength. To have the experiences that she had but still possess the strength to live on and not let the actions of others define her shows the incredible mental strength of Gurba, something very few people possess.

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