Elisabet Velasquez

Cindy Seip

Nuyorican poet Elisabet Velasquez has performed her work in many places, including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Pregones Theatre, Brooklyn Museum, American Museum of Natural History, the Nuyorican Poets Café, and Rutgers, Williams College, Princeton, James Madison University, and Harvard. When We Make It (Dial Books) is her debut young adult novel-in-verse. Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth-grader growing up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1990s, watching the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her apartment. She questions the society around her, her Nuyorican identity, toxic masculinity, and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. A love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it, the book speaks to those who feel their emotions before they can name them, and to those who still may not have all the words but still have a story to tell. Kirkus called it “raw, breathtaking, and brilliant. … Velasquez, a Bushwick native herself, tells a real, on-the-block narrative of the neighborhood through Sarai, with biting pieces that masterfully weave themes of religion, street life, sexual assault, language, poverty, the complexities of Boricua/Puerto Rican/Nuyorican identity, and so much more.”