From Publishers Weekly
Out of the conflicting claims of family bonds, ethnic heritage and personal fulfillment, debut author Perez creates a rhapsodic narrative. It is a story much like Dominican Republic native Perez's own, about a family who moves to Brooklyn from that island to seek better lives. Iliana, the youngest daughter, comes back home from college the week before Christmas after receiving what she believes to be several telepathic messages from her ailing mother. On her return, she is confronted by family members exhibiting madness, grief and violence. Her sister Marina, who has been raped, is borderline schizophrenic and suicidal; another sister, Rebecca, refuses to leave her abusive husband; her brothers have distanced themselves, and her rigidly conservative parents, Aurelia and Papito, are in a state of denial, having placed all their hopes in their religious faith. Iliana's educated intelligence and strong, almost supernatural intuition chafe against her respect for her parents and the religiously inflicted guilt she feels as she attempts to help her family and define a "home" for herself. Ironically, it is another sexual assault that allows Iliana to understand her resiliency and her family's strength, forged from traditional patterns and bitter experience. Perez skillfully blends atmospheric elements of Dominican culture into her American setting. Her prose is fluid and graceful but guardedly understated; yet the emotional undercurrent is strong and affecting. She directs her story with a steady hand, and though the rendition of cultural dislocation is bleak, the powerful message is of the redeeming power of family love that contributes to individual courage and self-fulfillment. First serial to Bomb; foreign rights sold in the UK, Germany and Holland; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
It's hard to believe that this is a first novel, so masterfully does Perez manage its complex story line and large family of characters. Iliana, one of the youngest of 14 children, is the daughter of Dominican immigrants struggling to survive in New York. She is a student at an elite college hours away from the city, but an overwhelming sense of not belonging and a series of family crises bring her back home. One older sister is having increasingly violent schizophrenic episodes, another is psychologically dependent on her savagely abusive husband, and Iliana's aging parents seem unable or unwilling to intercede in either case. Perez realistically portrays the pressures that poverty and discrimination inflict on the family. Her novel is not without flaws?the prose can be clumsy, and we don't fully understand why Iliana came to be so different from the rest of her family?but the storytelling is so powerful we don't care. This is an author to watch.?Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.