HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Have you checked out SantaThing, LibraryThing's gift-giving tradition?
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)

by Cristina Henríquez

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0716613,632 (3.88)116
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 Mexico 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 PanamA 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.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 116 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Should be required reading for all those trying to sort out the immigration issues in this country. While fictional, this book puts a human face and sympathetic spin on those who come to America. This was an excellent audio book because the different characters are represented by different readers and hearing their accents makes for an authentic experience, even at the cost of missing the meaning of the occasional phrase in Spanish. The primary narrator is Alma, who along with husband Arturo have come to the US (Delaware, specifically), legally (he is employed by the mushroom farms initially) for the sake of their 15-year-old daughter, Maribel who suffered a brain-damaging fall in Mexico the year before. They are confident that American schools and doctors can make a difference and help her be herself again. Currently, her language and processing skills are impacted, and she is suffering from horrible headaches. A beautiful girl, she is not "all there." The Riveras settle into a bare-bones apartment complex that houses many other immigrants who look and sound alike (Spanish-speaking) and that is where our prejudices begin to be tested. They each add a small portion to the narrative, recounting their immigration experiences from Paraguy, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala and they each have unique reasons for coming and for staying, not to mention a rich heritage they try to honor in absentia. The unfamiliarity with climate, language, food, customs plays a role in all their stories, not to mention the heartbreak of what they have left behind. Very eye-opening. For the Riveras, it is navigating the school system, and trying to keep Maribel safe since she is so fragile. There is a bullying menace, Garrett Miller who taunts and haunts her, but there is also Major, a neighbor boy who loves her and looks out for her. Their tale of first love is touching, but adds to the complications of misunderstanding and culture shock, especially because his whole family has become close with the Riveras. While it plays along like an interesting "light" tale for the first 2/3s, it builds to tragedy (with redemption) by the end. Overall enjoyable and worthwhile ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
"Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things" This first line grabbed me and took me on an unforgettable journey;one with an amazing, unexpected end.

Love, family, hope & dreams all collide in this powerful novel. ( )
  ShannonRose4 | Sep 15, 2020 |
An engaging look into the lives of several Latin American immigrant families. Their stories were compelling and the novel was beautifully written. ( )
  baruthcook | Aug 26, 2020 |
This novel is a painfully realized visit with the residents of an apartment complex in Delaware, all of whom are immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Every family's story provides justification for the complete upheaval of leaving home and family, language and culture, out of fear or for economic survival. Arturo and Alma leave Mexico to receive help for daughter Maribel, who has suffered a devastating head injury and cannot be helped by any local medical facilities. Living at the apartment complex is Mayor and his family, from Panama, who develops an intense crush on Maribel, as does a threatening violent white teenager. Anyone who calls other humans "illegals" should be forced to read this book and then to try to justify their racist views. ( )
  froxgirl | Mar 2, 2020 |
I don't believe this book was marketed as a YA novel (and at least some of the blurbs are not from YA authors), but that is very much how it read to me. And my issues with the book are all based on its YA feel.

I expected this to be an immigration story. And it is, but mostly it's a teen romance. And while we learn the immigration stories of the two teens' families, we only get brief glimpses of the other residents' (about 3 pages)--a tidbit to tease us, and to show how these different people all ended up in Delaware. I wanted more. The reading level is also YA, and the story line is very linear, with just the occasional chapter giving the origin story of another resident. The only other teens we meet are William, Mayor's friend he has fought with over Maribel and her disability, and Garrett, the white-trash skater and sexual assaulter.

So, a perfectly fine book but given the low reading level, linear storyline, and teen romance, it was totally not my kind of thing. People looking for YA teen romance and immigration stories might love it.
————
Maribel, 15, is recovering from a TBI. Her parents decide they need a better school for her, so spend a year to get a work visa and job near such a school in the US. They move into a small apartment building filled with other Spanish speakers, from a variety of countries and Puerto Rico. And there they meet the Toro family, with their son Mayor. Mayor becomes friends with Maribel, despite her disability, and they are falling in love. Meanwhile, their parents are struggling with jobs (this is post-9/11 as the economy suffered), Mayor is struggling with his father's expectations and his feelings toward Maribel, and Maribel is struggling with her memory, injury, and is often a little confused. ( )
  Dreesie | Oct 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Let us all be from somewhere.
/ Let us tell each other everything we can. - Bob Hicok, "A Primer"
Dedication
For my father, Pantaleón Henríquez III
First words
Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

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 Mexico 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 PanamA 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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.88)
0.5
1 3
1.5
2 7
2.5 4
3 61
3.5 20
4 125
4.5 21
5 55

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 152,541,157 books! | Top bar: Always visible