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When the de La Cruz Family Danced Paperback – June 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Signal 8 Press (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9881989590
  • ISBN-13: 978-9881989598
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Miscolta is a pitch-perfect prose stylist and a passionately empathetic creator: she savors sentence-making and attends to the all-important nuanced moments between people.  --Antonya Nelson, author of Bound

In her deft debut novel, Donna Miscolta presents a clarifying vision of post-immigration America. Miscolta's novel is intricate, tender, and elegantly written--a necessary novel for our times.  --Rick Barot, author of Want

A smoothly written debut that sways between the Philippines and the U.S., between the present and past, and between the secrets and hard truths of its compelling characters.  --Cristina Garcia, author of The Lady Matador's Hotel

When the de la Cruz Family Danced is my kind of book--characters I fell in love with, prose that made me swoon, dialogue that rang true. --Noel Alumit, author of Talking to the Moon and Letters to Montgomery Clift

When the de la Cruz Family Danced introduces a wise, warm, funny and big-hearted writer to the world. This book is a delight.  -- Rebecca Brown, author of American Romances

From the Back Cover

This extraordinary novel illustrates a family's long journey toward making peace--with the world, with the family, and with individual selves. Miscolta is a pitch-perfect prose stylist and a passionately empathetic creator: she savors sentence-making and attends to the all-important nuanced moments between people. This chronicle of a family is beautifully observed and heart-rendingly told, and these characters will linger long after you've closed the book. I feel blessed to have met this family and to have made the journey with them.
-- Antonya Nelson, author of Bound

In her deft debut novel, Donna Miscolta presents a clarifying vision of post-immigration America. Longings acted upon or stifled, secrets disclosed or withheld, connections made or frayed--Miscolta shows that the extended de la Cruz family is a mirror of the things that bind us and keep us apart. When the de la Cruz Family Danced may be one particular family's aching story, but the novel also has a largeness that encompasses the evolving formal history of the novel, the history of family life in America, and the continuing story of how immigrants carry the burdens of the past into the strange present. Miscolta's novel is intricate, tender, and elegantly written--a necessary novel for our times. -- Rick Barot, author of Want

More About the Author

Donna Miscolta's fiction has appeared in literary journals, and her story collection Natalie Wood's Fake Puerto Rican Accent was selected by Peter Ho Davies as a finalist for the 2010 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. She has received over a dozen grants and fellowships and has been awarded artist residencies at Anderson Center for the Interdisciplinary Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. See her website and blog at www.donnamiscolta.com.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I loved "When the de la Cruz Family Danced."
Kathleen Flenniken
The reader may understandably wonder if this family is more dysfunctional than it is nurturing.
not a natural
This novel was beautifully written and engaging.
Garland Rogers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dana on June 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Confession time: I judged a book by it's cover. Well, actually by it's title. Usually I am adamant about not doing that and rely instead on the synopsis. In this case, I was totally vindicated in my choice. This book has found its place on my top 100 list (still in progress).

As you know, if you have spent any time reading my reviews, I almost never include a run down of the plot. There are lots of places, on the web and off, that carry info as to the plot line of a book - my blog is for reviews. 'When the de la Cruz Family Danced' is going to be one of those exceptions because I feel like the blurb on the back of the book doesn't do the book justice.

Johnny de la Cruz is old and sick - maybe even in the process of dying, but before that happens he feels the need to reconnect with his family and come to terms with what his life has been.

Winston Pina is a young man and, with his mother's recent death and his father's not so recent abandonment, now an orphan. He finds a letter his mother had written to an old friend and never sent and decides to follow where it might lead. In the process he will redefine who he is and come to terms with his life, both with and without, his parents.

In the process of each finding their way through very different stages in their lives, the two men become integral parts of each other's journeys.

Donna Miscolta has written an amazing novel. It is rich with feeling and thought. I absolutely fell in love with Johnny. Although he was not an easy character to get to know, the process of getting to know him felt real and never like a chore. More like the process we all go through in getting to know a new friend. In fact, all of the characters were very real and acted true to their personalities throughout the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By not a natural on March 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Donna Miscolta is an accomplished prose stylist who enables us to effortlessly read the pages of her novel, easily absorbing the well-chosen words that make up her skillfully crafted sentences. There is a natural fluidity in the way the story is told that can't be contrived. Artificial contrivance, in fact, is precisely what the author avoids. Miscolta is a gifted writer who puts pen to paper or keystroke to keyboard with the sureness and facility that are found only among those who are truly at home with their craft, comfortably telling a story, capable of saying what they want with an unembellished vocabulary, and never anguishing over just the right word or sentence-long sequence. Her attention to everyday details is impressive, giving vivacity, interest, and meaning to the commonplace and adding life to the most mundane locations and events. She truly paints pictures with words. I don't know how Miscolta got to be as good as she is, but she writes as if it were as natural as breathing.

It is remarkable, moreover, for one apparently still young, that Miscolta's smooth-flowing prose bespeaks a firm and empathetic grasp of what it means to be middle-aged, old, sick, or near death. Most of us acquire insights peculiar to being a particular age or condition through first-hand experience, or we don't acquire them at all. Miscolta, however, is sufficiently skilled at taking the roles of older and otherwise depleted others that she can write about them as if she herself had lived through the debilitation of successive years of diminishing vigor and failing health. Nevertheless, she also understands the virtues and opportunities of a healthy maturity, acknowledging that the most fortunate older folks are still filled with life, sometimes betraying a mischievously youthful outlook.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Landes on September 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
When the de la Cruz Family Danced by Donna Miscolta is the story of a particular family, in a specific Philippino community, and part of the larger world of immigrant communities in the United States. We are introduced to Johnny de la Cruz as a young man visiting his father in the Phillipines and then meet him again nineteen years later, frail and ill. Johnny's sexual encounter with the lovely, enticing Bunny Piña in the Philippines and a letter that she wrote, but never sent to Johnny establish the plot through which we meet the well-drawn characters of this family and the greater community. The unique attributes of this subculture are interesting; the universality of their family problems, interactions, and tender affection speak to all of us. This is a wonderful book that makes us yearn for Ms. Miscolta's next novel and I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. Yeates on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
The title and cover art of WHEN the de la Cruz Family DANCED (June 2011) suggests a genuine expectation of an amicable "la dolce vita" family narrative. However, any imminent likelihood of such a cursory expectation is abruptly squelched on page 21,

"...No one had said he was dying. And though no one had assured him he would recover, no one had said he would not..."

This incredibly astute debut novel profoundly delves into one man's deep-seated complexities, which lie tethered to his Filipino quixotic roots, and evocatively reveals how easily fragile family relationships can disintegrate when one person's isolation weaves a web of loneliness that encompasses all. Johnny's listless and daily introspection slowly creates fissures between his wife Tessie and his adult daughters Josie, Laura, and Sara. Despite his family's outwardly concerned and devoted posture, Johnny appears continually distracted and distrusting of their relentless presence and sycophantic efforts to enhance his cancer-ridden life. His perceptive personal thoughts offer ample proof that he has reservations about his wife's mysterious "errands," from which Tessie often returns a bit disheveled, and his disparate remarks regarding his adult daughters' lives evolve into a discernible detachment. Yet, faithful adherence to one generational old-world ritual persists as Johnny, Tessie, and his adult daughters gather for their Sunday dinners.

In a California city close by, sorting through his recently deceased mother Bunny's personal effects, nineteen-year-old Winston Piña unexpectedly finds a faded letter in an envelope addressed to Johnny de la Cruz. He reads it and wonders why his obsessively detail-oriented mother chose not to mail it.
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