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America's Dream: Novel, A Reissue Edition, Kindle Edition
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"Lyrical [and] haunting, América’s liberating epiphany will have readers . . . on their feet and cheering." — Washington Post
Deftly written and fiercely resilient, América’s Dream explores the ever-shifting definition of what it means to be American and exemplifies the spirit of every immigrant who has dared to realize the American dream.
América Gonzalez is a hotel housekeeper on Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, cleaning up after wealthy foreigners who don’t look her in the eye. Her alcoholic mother resents her; her married boyfriend, Correa, beats her; and their fourteen-year-old daughter thinks life would be better anywhere but with América. So when América is offered the chance to work as a live-in housekeeper and nanny for a family in Westchester, New York, she takes it as a sign to finally make the escape she's been longing for.
Yet, even as América revels in the comparative luxury of her new life—daring to care about a man other than Correa—she is faced with the disquieting realization that no matter what she does, she can never really escape her past.
From the Back Cover
América Gonzalez is a hotel housekeeper on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, cleaning up after wealthy foreigners who don't look her In the eye. Her alcoholic mother resents her; her married boyfriend, Correa, beats her; and their fourteen-year-old daughter thinks life would be better anywhere but with América. So when América is offered the chance to work as alive-in housekeeper and nanny for a family in Westchester County, New York, she takes it as a sign that a door to escape has been opened. Yet even as América revels in the comparative luxury of her new life, daring to care about a man other than Correa, she is faced with dramatic proof that no matter what she does, she can't get away from her past.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Esmeralda Santiago is the author of three groundbreaking memoirs: When I was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman (which she adapted into a Peabody Award–winning movie for PBS Masterpiece), and The Turkish Lover. Her fiction includes the novels América's Dream (also made into a film) and Conquistadora, and a children's book, A Doll for Navidades. Esmeralda is passionate about the artistic development of young people and has traveled the world as a public speaker encouraging literacy, memoir writing, and storytelling. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B000QTE9V6
- Publisher : HarperCollins e-books; Reissue edition (October 13, 2009)
- Publication date : October 13, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 3815 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 366 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0063074133
- Best Sellers Rank: #202,669 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Reading about a character who makes poor choices can often be a turn-off, however the author engages the reader by describing the protagonist and her backstory effectively.
Beautiful descriptive prose keeps you reading but the redundant descriptions on setting is sometimes too much and the eye wants to scan for the forward movement.
I love the dialogue, the emotional reactions, and interplay between the maids. I loved how the author gave us the dialogue between the mother and protagonist. The villain in the story was well played.I learned some things about Puerto RIco, the culture and language.
I didn't like the way the daughter's character was written. She had the same extremes of reaction over the entire book.
These glitches may be because this is the author's first novel (1996).
I would definitely read Esmeralda Santiago's other books.
Another good book from Emeralda Santiago.
Top reviews from other countries
I wonder whether there were a particular number of revelations about domestic abuse in America in the 1990s - this is the third novel published in the late 1990s that I've read on this subject (the others are Anita Shreve's 'Strange Fits of Passion' and Anna Quindlen's 'Black and Blue'). What makes this one particularly distinctive is how much América is hampered by the culture of 'machismo' in her native Puerto Rico (so she's never entirely sure how wrong Correa's behaviour is) and the clever way that Santiago portrays América's mixture of attraction and repulsion as regards her lover - and of course the parallel exploration of immigrant life in New York. Santiago is particularly good at this - the scenes with América's family (Tia Paula, Tio Leopoldo and their children, and the neighbour Darío) are beautiful, as are the scenes with América and her fellow nannies and housekeepers, all of whom come from Central and Latin America and have stories to tell. There's some very vivid evocations of suburban America and of Puerto Rico and its culture as well, and the book certainly makes you think about the cavalier way in which domestic 'helps' are often treated by their employers.
At the same time, there were some aspects of the book that I didn't feel entirely worked. The Leveretts never really rise beyond the position of cyphers - the workaholic gym-aholic husband, the cool, micro-managing working mother, the spoilt, entitled brats - and it was never clear how much Karen Leverett really liked América and how much she just saw her as an efficient childcare machine. I also wondered at why América didn't ask for help more. Shreve provides good reasons for her heroine's reluctance to talk about her troubles in 'Strange Fits of Passion' by having her so isolated - a vulnerable woman living in a city where she's made few friends, and wary about upsetting her even more vulnerable mother, while Anna Quindlen showed that her heroine had to go 'on the run' as the abusing husband in this case actually was a popular policeman. But in América's case, even if her mother and daughter are no help, she has a whole family offering to help and shelter her from Correa. Why doesn't she run to them or get them to protect her when Correa is on her tracks? Why won't she talk to them about what she's suffered? I suppose Santiago's point is that América is still too much in love with Correa to admit to her problems - but this chimes oddly with her actions in the final chapters, particularly after what eventually happens to Correa. Which brings me to the final point - the ending. This is the second novel I've read in a week where someone manages to pull off an amazing feat from a position of extreme weakness, and I wasn't entirely convinced - it all seemed a bit too quick and easy. And it all happened too fast, particularly the aftermath of what happened at the Leveretts' home. We needed a bit more time to see América process things, I feel.
Nevertheless, the skilful and compassionate depiction of immigrant life in America and of life in Puerto Rico, and the vivid characters among the Puerto Ricans would encourage me to read this book again, and will stay with me for a long time. So, a good read on the whole (and a quick one after a slow opening few chapters, it took me only a day to read it).