Since 1971 Sonia Manzano has been one of the lucky residents of Sesame Street. As Maria, she guided Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the gang through life lessons large and small. After 44 years, Manzano recently announced her retirement, but her dedication to help kids continues.
Manzano's new memoir Becoming Maria is a poignant and difficult book meant for teens and adults. In it, she tells her own story of growing up in a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx in the '50s and '60s. There was love, but also violence brought on by her father's drinking.