I don’t even know what’s wrong with me that I’m having such trouble posting anything lately. It would be great if I could attribute this to still being in a reading slump but I’m not. At all.
I’ve been reading wonderful, engaging, thought-provoking, funny, escapist books.
Let’s try and reset shall we?
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.
This book has been on my list for a while – pretty much since it came out. Which made it the perfect candidate for my 2016 TBR Pile Challenge list. It’s not official this year, but Holly and Amanda @ Gun in Act One wanted to go for it again this year and asked if I wanted to join in. I haven’t figured out how to say no to them yet so here we are.
Arturo and Alma move to America from Mexico to give their daughter a chance at a special school to handle her traumatic brain injury. Maribel has been recovering well after her accident but her doctors think that a specialized school is necessary and they just don’t exist in Mexico. So they pack up their lives and move to America, doing all the things the right way. They end up living in a squalid one-bedroom apartment in a complex filled with immigrants, Arturo working long days in the dark on a mushroom farm.
Soon their lives find a new rhythm in this strange place that isn’t like anything they anticipated. They make friends with other people in their building, including the Toros, a family from Panama whose son Mayor falls in love with Maribel. Soon their relationship makes the parents uncomfortable and they have to confront the consequences.
Woven through their stories are the stories of the other residents. Immigrants who come to America for opportunity, to look after their families back home, to start over.
I’m not sure that I’ve read too many books like this one. This book puts a spotlight on Hispanic immigrants and their experiences in America. It deals with the kinds of conflict they can run into, the fear of the unknown, language barriers, economic uncertainty and the idea through it all that they have come to the land of opportunity even if they aren’t accepted by everyone.
This book totally made me cry. The Riveras and the Toros are trying to make a success of this new American life in the face of so many obstacles and no one wants to accept them. They look down on them as immigrants as if the entire country wasn’t founded on immigration. I also really loved the relationship between Mayor and Maribel. Maribel is a beautiful girl but since her accident, she isn’t the same girl and Mayor is the only one that accepts her the way that she is, allowing her a chance to find her way back to herself.
I wanted the other stories to be fleshed out more – I wanted to know what happened to them. I think I found out in the end and it was so sad – a genius storytelling method from Henriquez.
I love this TBR Pile challenge for forcing me to finally read books I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Mostly they’ve all been wonderful and I’m glad for the excuse of finally getting to them.
So that’s getting things back on track. Will try to use some of the weekend to get more stuff up on here!