From Publishers Weekly
In her debut novel, Henríquez, author of the short story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, explores the depths of love in an unconventional family and a foreign land. In suburban Chicago, young, unsure Miraflores finds herself caught between finishing college and caring for her mother, who has developed premature Alzheimer's disease. While tending to her mother, Mira uncovers a startling secret regarding her Panamanian father, long a forbidden topic; Mira had been told that he abandoned them prior to her birth, but there seems to be more to the story. To find him, and hopefully some perspective, Mira takes an extended vacation to Panama where he remains a citizen. There, Mira makes friends with elderly doorman Hernán and his young relative Danilo and,with their help, pursues every possible lead to her father. While Mira's quest for identity and family stability unfolds, the friendship between her and Danilo deepens, and soon she finds herself with feelings for the energetic, handsome, occasionally abrasive young man. A closely observed tale of relationships with some astute parallels between human interaction and subterranean geology, Henríquez's novel also benefits from a strong sense of place and plotting.
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Henríquez’s first book, Come Together, Fall Apart (2006), a striking collection of short stories set in Panama, elevated her to the hot-new-talent echelon. In her first novel, she infuses the quiet tragedies of a fractured family with conundrums of inheritance and identity. Henríquez’s appealing narrator, Mira (full name, Miraflores), a geophyiscs major at the University of Chicago and a good girl, tends to her single mother, who at 45 is assailed by early-onset Alzheimer’s. Mira knows nothing about her father, other than the fact that her mother had an affair while living briefly in Panama City, until she discovers a stash of passionate letters. Dumbfounded, desperate for family as her mother loses control of her mind, and hungry for understanding of her Panamanian heritage, Mira heads to Panama City with an old address and no plan. Seduced by the spaciousness of the novel, Henríquez gets bogged down in moment-by-moment minutiae, but her characters and their predicaments are compelling, her descriptions luscious, her humor tart, and her sensitivity to the emotional implications of a long-camouflaged bicultural legacy is exquisite. --Donna Seaman
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