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Try to Remember Paperback – May 5, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet and immigration lawyer Gomez (When Comets Rained) mines her own experiences in her enthralling fiction debut, the story of a family of Colombian immigrants adjusting to life in '70s-era Florida. Gabriela De la Paz has earned the nickname Auxiliadora (the Helper) for all her efforts translating and interpreting American culture for her parents. The frustrated daughter of Roberto and Evangelina, Gabi must act far older than her teen years when her Papi, schizophrenic and untreated, can't keep a job and gets into trouble with the police because of his violent behavior. Evangelina must hide her sewing and cleaning jobs to avoid Roberto's wrath (he disapproves of women working) while Gabi's brothers, Manolo and Pablo, fear his physical abuse. Gomez charts Gabi's challenges as she gains confidence, educates herself, and finds inspiration from Lara, a modern woman for whom she babysits, in this intense and sensitive tale with crossover YA appeal. (May)
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Review

"Lyrical, poignant, and smart, as compassionate and hopeful as it is heartbreaking...a novel you will never forget."―New York Times bestselling author Jenna Blum

"This stunning debut offers a fresh and vibrant coming of age novel full of universal truths and dazzling particulars. Gabriela is a character you'll root for and grow to love. TRY TO REMEMBER is a book impossible to forget. I adored every single page."―National Bestselling Author Mameve Medwed

"Poet and immigration lawyer Gomez (When Comets Rained) mines her own experiences in her enthralling fiction debut, the story of a family of Colombian immigrants adjusting to life in '70s-era Florida. Gabriela De la Paz has earned the nickname Auxiliadora ('the Helper') for all her efforts translating and interpreting American culture for her parents. The frustrated daughter of Roberto and Evangelina, Gabi must act far older than her teen years when her Papi, schizophrenic and untreated, can't keep a job and gets into trouble with the police because of his violent behavior. Evangelina must hide her sewing and cleaning jobs to avoid Roberto's wrath (he disapproves of women working) while Gabi's brothers, Manolo and Pablo, fear his physical abuse. Gomez charts Gabi's challenges as she gains confidence, educates herself, and finds inspiration from Lara, a 'modern' woman for whom she babysits, in this intense and sensitive tale with crossover YA appeal. (May)"Publishers Weekly

"What holds the reader is the drama of each intense home scenario, scary and tender... The clash between traditional immigrant values and feminist

independence is powerful... In her debut novel, Colombian immigrant poet Gomez dramatizes the universal dilemma of a loving family

serving as 'both joy and prison.'"―Booklist

"Far from the stereotypical wisecracking rebel or clueless outsider, Gabi is an irresistible narrator-observant, compassionate, and utterly genuine-trying to balance family loyalty and a yearning to discover 'Who did I dare to be?'"―Karen Holt, O Magazine
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (May 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044655619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556194
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I absolutely adored this novel, about a Colombian family's struggles to adjust to life in 1970s Miami. Told from the point of view of young Gabriela, the daughter, nicknamed "The Helper" by her family because she must help her non-English-speaking parents understand their new world, TRY TO REMEMBER looks at what it means to be an emigrant in our country--a timely topic! Told with warmth, humor, and beautiful language, the novel is like taking a trip to Gabriela's Florida, complete with hurricane, mango trees, and dulce de leche--but it also explores the very serious topics of mental illness (Roberto, the dad, exhibits signs of schizophrenia) and offers heartbreaking scenes of a family desperate to protect the sick one while trying to survive. TRY TO REMEMBER also follows Gabriela as she tries to figure out where her loyalties lie: with her family or in becoming an assimilated American teen? This book will make you laugh and make your throat close with tears. You won't forget Gabriela and her family.
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Format: Paperback
Just finished reading Try to Remember. Couldn't put it down. The book does a real service in showing the pressures of growing up in two cultures. Expect it will contribute to a better understanding among people of different backgrounds, whether they are immigrants or not.
My parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1938 as Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Although I was born here, I can identify with the balancing, or not, of daily living in two worlds with different norms, expectations and customs. I think the book would make a wonderful movie.
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Format: Paperback
As 'Try to Remember' begins in 1968, Gabriella is 15 years old and living with her father, mother and two younger brothers near Miami, Florida. They have immigrated to the United States from Colombia. Both of Gabi's parents hold green cards but she fears they will be revoked and they will be sent back to Colombia. Gabi's fears stem from the fact that her father behaves erratically and her brothers get in trouble at school.

Gabi has a large and extended family that helps them out. Gabi's mother does piecework and part-time janitorial work. Gabi's father harbors delusions about the U.S. government owing him millions of dollars. He is unable to hold down a job. He spends his days writing incoherent letters to the government. Gabi is the transcriber of these letters which are incomprehensible and delusional in quality.

It is obvious to Gabi that her father is very ill. The family, however, and especially Gabi's mother, refuse to believe the extent of his illness. They rerer to what is going on with him as 'nerves'. Sometimes Gabi's father rants and beats up Gabi's brothers. They, in turn, begin to act oppositionally. Gabi appears to be the only mature one in the family. She tries to break through her mother's denial about her father, but can not succeed.

After Gabi's father has an exceptionally severe rant, her mother gets some dalmane (a sleeping pill) from a relative and starts grinding these pills into her husband's morning orange juice. It seems to calm him down some.

Gabi is coming of age in all this chaos. She is trying to individuate, make friends and understand the rituals of dating. She is also trying to figure out what she wants to do with her live.
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Format: Paperback
TRY TO REMEMBER is a beautifully written novel that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat--not through a steroid-pumped plot, but by painting the very real terror of an immigrant teen's life. Deportation, jail, drugs, rape, pregnancy--these are all the dangers waiting for Gabriela de La Paz, adolescent daughter of Colombian immigrants. The reader spends most of the novel waiting to see which of these dangers is going to bring her down. But this is not just a story about the hazards of being an illegal immigrant. It's a story about the dangers of family: How the same people who are supposed to help us can drag us under.

When Gabriela's proud, temperamental father begins to behave in increasingly bizarre, even violent ways, the effect on her family is like a time bomb suddenly appearing in their livingroom. Gabriela's mother refuses to acknowledge the change. Her brothers find ways to escape, through work and friends and drugs. Only Gabriela--barely an adolescent when the novel opens--can keep the family from blowing apart.

Iris Gomez is an award-winning poet and immigration lawyer. She was born in Colombia and writes with the kind of intelligence, authority and lyricism that even her fellow countryman, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, would have to admire. TRY TO REMEMBER is a stunning debut novel. And in Gabriela de la Paz, you will find one of the most intelligent, sympathetic and unique characters you have ever met. A must-read!
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Format: Paperback
This book details the perilous journey of a brave colombian woman and keeps the reader enthralled at every turn. This is truly a masterpiece and not to be missed!
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Try to Remember is a beautifully written, haunting story of a girl torn between caring for her immigrant mother and father--neither is facile in English and her father suffers from a mysterious mental impairment of which her mother is ashamed--and her dreams to soar higher than her parent's aspirations for her (in school, in love, and in her someday career)

This conflict causes her to question her loyalty to her family as it collides with fealty to her own future. Page turning, poetic, and achingly true--I highly recommend this wonderful book that captures time, place and the plight of a child of immigrants.
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