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The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina…

The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)

by Cristina Henríquez

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8315815,727 (3.93)100

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I would have probably given this 4* except for the fact that I disliked the final section. It wasn't the death of Arturo so much as the way Mayor and Alma responded to it that I didn't care for.

I did like the use of different narrators for the various points of view. ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 11, 2018 |
A little apartment building in Delaware is at the center of this domestic drama about the immigrant experience. As the chapters switch perspectives between the different residents, we learn how they came documented and undocumented from their various Latin American countries of origin to the United States. While their origins are diverse, their aspirations are common and universal: finding a safe place for themselves and their loved ones, building friendships and a community, fulfilling their dreams of success or at least stability, and giving their children the opportunity to reach even higher than themselves.

I found the characters engaging enough that I regretted having to set the book aside for work or chores, but in the end it is a pretty low-key affair with a muddled ending that is true to real life and thus not particularly satisfying. It's certainly thought provoking though.

This book came to my attention as the 2018 Common Read for Mt. Holyoke College, where my daughter will be a freshman this fall. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
This book just happened to be my current rotation for #LGPOG, and my goodness, was it timely. The intersecting stories of several immigrants from Latin American countries living in Delaware. Gorgeously written and deeply affecting, I was hooked from the start and listened to the whole book today. I loved Alma and Arturo’s story best of all. Discomforting and heartbreaking.

Everyone should read this book. ( )
  sprainedbrain | Jul 3, 2018 |
Such a timely book for this moment in US history - so beautifully written and real - this follows two families immigrating to the US for very different reasons, ending up in the same depressed housing facility in Delaware. The young brain injured daughter of one family enters a relationship with the young son of the other family and issues arise -

I loved the tenderness of the relationship, the courage of the individuals and families who gave up everything at home to provide a safe healthy environment for their loved ones, the hope and faith of so many in the face of uncertainty. I was less enthusiastic about the brief chapters about other immigrants as that seemed to pull me from the main story line, hence 4 stars.

The Trump White House with their brutal and cruel new regulations re separating immigrant families is the antithesis of what the best moments of this book presents. ( )
  njinthesun | Jun 21, 2018 |
The stories of the characters come alive on paper and their stories are become known. ( )
  Derby75 | May 8, 2018 |
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Let us all be from somewhere.
/ Let us tell each other everything we can. - Bob Hicok, "A Primer"
For my father, Pantaleón Henríquez III
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Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385350848, Hardcover)

A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery-the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes-will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles. At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America. Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

Moving from Mexico to America when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter's difficult recovery and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.

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