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The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 3, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,414 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: Cristina Henríquez’s powerful novel The Book of Unknown Americans captures readers with the quiet beauty of her characters and their profoundly wrought experiences as immigrants in America. The story takes place in a run-down apartment building in Delaware, home to nine families who arrived in the States from various South and Central American countries, each looking to better the lives of the next generation. In alternating chapters, these men and women share stories of how their adopted country has left its mark on them, for better and worse. The close bond that develops between the Rivera and Toro families drives the novel forward, particularly the relationship between their children Mayor and Maribel, as closely held secrets and feelings of guilt, love, hope, and despair are unpacked with warmth and compassion. With her cast of “unknown Americans,” Henriquez has crafted a novel that is inspiring, tragic, brave, and above all, unforgettable. --Seira Wilson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* On a cold, bewildering night, the Riveras, who have just left their happy lives in Mexico, are dropped off at a dilapidated apartment building on the western edge of Delaware. Arturo has given up his thriving construction company to labor in a dark, grimy indoor mushroom farm, while his wife, Alma, lonely and afraid, with no English and little money, worries incessantly about their beautiful 15-year-old daughter, Maribel. She has suffered a traumatic brain injury, and her parents have sacrificed everything to send her to a special school. Their building turns out to be a sanctuary for Central and Latin American immigrants, and as the Riveras’ dramatic tale unfolds, Henríquez brings their generous neighbors forward to tell the compelling stories of why and how they left Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Paraguay. As one man says, “We are the unknown Americans,” those who are feared and hated. As Maribel opens up to Mayor, the infatuated boy next-door who is relentlessly bullied by his father and his classmates, terror of the unknown becomes a tragic force. Each scene, voice, misunderstanding, and alliance is beautifully realized and brimming with feeling in the acclaimed Henríquez’s (The World in Half, 2009) compassionately imagined, gently comedic, and profoundly wrenching novel of big dreams and crushing reality, courageous love and unfathomable heartbreak. --Donna Seaman

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf; First Edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0385350848
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0385350846
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.15 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.93 x 1.1 x 8.56 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,414 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
1,414 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on March 21, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2015
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Top reviews from other countries

W. A. Burt
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding is for things that are lost.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 22, 2020
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El Oso
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best book I've read in the last 12 months
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2018
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R. Moore
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the hype
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 24, 2015
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MH
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 9, 2018
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balashare
4.0 out of 5 stars Snapshot descriptions of immigrant life in the US
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2015
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