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The House of Broken Angels (2018)

by Luis Alberto Urrea

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5164135,325 (4.14)117
"In Urrea's exuberant new novel of Mexican-American life, 70-year-old patriarch Big Angel de la Cruz is dying, and he wants to have one last birthday blowout. Unfortunately, his 100-year-old mother, America, dies the week of his party, so funeral and birthday are celebrated one day apart. The entire contentious, riotous de la Cruz clan descends on San Diego for the events. High rollers and college students, prison veternaos and welfare mothers, happy kids and sad old-timers and pinches gringos and all available relatives. Not to mention figurative ghosts of the departed and an unexpected guest with a gun. Taking place over the course of two days, with time out for an extended flashback to Big Angel's journey from La Paz to San Diego in the 1960s, the narrative follows Big Angel and his extended familia as they air old grievances, initiate new romances, and try to put their relationships in perspective. Of the large cast, standouts include Perla, Big Angel's wife, the object of his undimmed affection; Little Angel, his half-Anglo half-brother, who strains to remain aloof; and Lalo, his son, trailing a lifetime of bad decisions. Urrea (The Hummingbird's Daughter) has written a vital, vibrant book about the immigrant experience that is a messy celebration of life's common joys and sorrows"--Publisher's weekly.… (more)
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» See also 117 mentions

English (40)  Piratical (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
In an epic, raucous and often hilarious novel, we meet a sprawling Mexican-American family as they gather for the funeral of their matriarch, followed by the 70th birthday party of Big Angel de la Cruz. This is their story, in all its amazing messiness – about the good and the bad, but most of all the love. One of my favorites from 2018! ( )
  KellyWellRead | Dec 17, 2020 |
Miguel Angel de La Cruz, or Big Angel, as he’s known, calls his whole family back to celebrate what will be his last birthday – he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His almost 100-year-old mother happens to die that weekend so the gathering morphs into a combination funeral and birthday party. It sounds like the makings of a somber occasion but it’s not. The de La Cruz family is a lively cast of characters, full of spirit and humor. (I had trouble keeping track of everyone. Some editions of the book have a family tree in them – if you decide to read this book, I recommend trying to find a copy that includes one.)

Little Angel, Big Angel’s half-brother, comes to visit for the celebration. He’s been raised by his white mother. He’s struggling with his identity as both white and Mexican and feeling somewhat like an outsider in the de La Cruz family, even though he is a part of it. Throughout the weekend, he listens as Big Angel tells him stories about his life and as people come to pay tribute to both Big Angel and Big Angel’s mother.

At its heart, The House of Broken Angels is about family. Urrea gave the relationships and characters wonderful depth. He based the novel on his relationship with his older half-brother, who also had a huge final birthday party. I’m sure that’s why the family in this book seems so authentic and their love for one another so real. ( )
  mcelhra | Nov 12, 2020 |
I have a one degree of separation thing with the author, so I was pretty sure that I was going to like this book but wow, what an accomplishment. Pure beauty and a family you want to be part of. There were some lines that stopped me dead - some in laughter and a few in tears. Gorgeous dialogue. What a feat. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
This one really needs 4.5 stars. What a beautifully written book overflowing with heart! Themes of love, family, forgiveness and redemption as well as contemporary social issues are presented through memorable characters, even more memorable scenes, and dialog that is crisp and authentic. I didn't expect to love this book, but it's so filled with pathos and humor that I was sorry it had to end. ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
Another masterpiece from Urrea. A moving story of family, one that reminds me of my own. Beautiful and uplifting even in inevitable death. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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Jim Harrison told me to write this book. Cinderella told me first. You were both right. This is for her.

My niece Emilia Urrea was a shining example through times that inspired events in this novel.

And for Chayo, who danced at the funeral.

Juan Francisco and the Urrea family showed me how this story was possible.
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Big Angel was late to his own mother's funeral.
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"In Urrea's exuberant new novel of Mexican-American life, 70-year-old patriarch Big Angel de la Cruz is dying, and he wants to have one last birthday blowout. Unfortunately, his 100-year-old mother, America, dies the week of his party, so funeral and birthday are celebrated one day apart. The entire contentious, riotous de la Cruz clan descends on San Diego for the events. High rollers and college students, prison veternaos and welfare mothers, happy kids and sad old-timers and pinches gringos and all available relatives. Not to mention figurative ghosts of the departed and an unexpected guest with a gun. Taking place over the course of two days, with time out for an extended flashback to Big Angel's journey from La Paz to San Diego in the 1960s, the narrative follows Big Angel and his extended familia as they air old grievances, initiate new romances, and try to put their relationships in perspective. Of the large cast, standouts include Perla, Big Angel's wife, the object of his undimmed affection; Little Angel, his half-Anglo half-brother, who strains to remain aloof; and Lalo, his son, trailing a lifetime of bad decisions. Urrea (The Hummingbird's Daughter) has written a vital, vibrant book about the immigrant experience that is a messy celebration of life's common joys and sorrows"--Publisher's weekly.

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Luis Alberto Urrea is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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