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Sotomayor memoir gives ‘hope’

A candid look at living in poverty, with diabetes


– Very soon after being diagnosed with diabetes, 7-year-old Sonia Sotomayor decided she would not depend on the adults in her life – a distant, overworked mother, a doomed, alcoholic father – for the daily shots of insulin that would keep her alive.

So along with the morning routine of getting breakfast and brushing her teeth, she’d pull a chair up to the stove and boil water to sterilize a syringe and needle, measure carefully and inject herself before leaving her South Bronx apartment for school.

In an extremely personal memoir to be published Tuesday, the 58-year-old Sotomayor writes candidly about how her life-long disease and the sense of “existential independence” she developed after the early death of her father fueled her rise from the poverty of the projects to the exclusive enclave of the Supreme Court.

“My Beloved World,” which is being published in English and Spanish, will reintroduce the nation to the first Hispanic justice – her publicity blitz includes a profile on “60 Minutes,” a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey, excerpts in People magazine and a national tour.

The book does not deal with her three years on the Supreme Court – she warns readers not to try to divine how her personal views inform her jurisprudence – and tells the story of her life only until her appointment to the federal bench 20 years ago.

One of the reasons for writing it, she said in a recent interview, is that “there are so many people with pieces of my story that they identify with and give them hope.

“I needed to honor that expectation in some way, and (show) it was a role that could be important for a Supreme Court justice.”

She reveals that her disease nearly took her life more than once and that part of the reason she never had children was a fear she would not be around to raise them.

She writes frankly that her independence played a role in the amicable break-up of her marriage to her high-school sweetheart, Kevin Noonan (although she still remains hopeful there will be another serious relationship in her life).

“I haven’t written off the possibility,” she said. Her mother was widowed young, “found someone in her 50s and married him much later in life. So there’s still hope.”