A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.
Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.
Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.
“A triumph of storytelling. Henríquez pulls us into the lives of her characters with such mastery that we hang on to them just as fiercely as they hang on to one another and their dreams. This passionate, powerful novel will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.” (Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk)
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The Book of Re-Opening my Heart
Beautiful look at the Immigrant experience
I loved this look into the lives of several Latin American immigrants to the United States. It is primarily about two families, with stories of friends and neighbors adding depth and complexity to their tale. Someone described it as "teen lit", but I disagree; it addresses universal themes of identity, belonging, finding home, and expectations. It can appeal to teenagers, as two of the main characters are 15-16 years old, but it is by no means strictly targeted at teenagers.
I would take Alma out to dinner. She obviously loves Maribel so much, but her love can sometimes be viewed as stifling. I would give her a big hug and tell her that Maribel may not be able to process things "normally", but she is a woman, with dreams and hopes, who just may not be able to articulate them.
This book is beautiful, with threads of hope, despair, love, and belonging. the narration is wonderful, with some narrators stronger than others.
A well worthwhile read!