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The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I love the structure of the story, which is told mainly through the point of view of Alma and Mayor, but also from half a dozen other characters who play more of a supporting role. I found that these different voices just added to the richness of the story.
Although this book is adult literary fiction, it's also a must-read for teenagers and other young adults.
The thing is, it just seemed a bit too YA for me. Now, there's nothing wrong with young adult literature. In fact, some of it is quite nuanced (as is this one). But I wanted something more. I wanted an immigrant story such as ones I've read by Junot Diaz, Dinaw Mengestu, or Kiran Desai, to name three. In other words, less a story and more of an explorative journey.
For what it is, this book is good. It focuses mainly on a teenager from Panama, Mayor, who falls in love with Maribel, a brain-damaged 15-year-old whose family hails from Mexico. Punctuating the forward thrust of this star-crossed tale are stories from other Latino immigrants from Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and, in fact, all across Central and Latin America. My one criticism is that there is not a strong differentiation of voices.
Book reviews are personal. I would never discourage anyone from reading this book, which admittedly, is quite good. This is just one person's reaction.
I love the story of Mayor who sees the person the Mirabel remains and treasures her for her quiet attention to him and his world. Their relationship sets a type of frame for the lives of the families as they attempt to be the best of unknown Americans.
This is a novel of unlovely places made dear by the attention and intent of those who live within them. I find it quiet in scope, but not slow and not picky. Shining moments are let to shine without fanfare or hyperbole. I just really liked the style of this prose. Many moments break your heart, but they are of a piece with life. I find the book a lovely and important look at a corner of the world.
As the novel continued, I started to feel a little disappointed. the main story line which began as a compelling combo of teen love, the perils of immigration, and general familial guilt angst and love, didn't gel for me. Writing down the themes makes me realize my disappointment stems from a feeling that the central plot was just a little bit forced, too many issues crammed into too few characters.
I feel the need to point out that this was just my reaction to the story and objectively I think most would enjoy the story in all its drama filled intensity. One particular strength of Henriquez is the ability to summon multiple voices to the page, which is what made the stand-alone tales so powerful, especially given the point of view is first person throughout.
This book seems destined for greatness, if not at least niche brilliance. The flaws mentioned above are hardly game-breakers considering the content was still several steps more artful then some pulp romance and the unique voices found among the pages will surely resonant with readers for many a night.
This wonderful novel tells the story of some of these invisible people, particularly the Rivera family, Arturo and Alma, and their beautiful, perfect daughter, Mirabel, who was never right after a tragic accident. The Riveras came to America so she could have special schooling, but they could never have imagined what would happen here.
The story is told through various points of view, each chapter given to a different character. Some are fully realized, others are just sketched in outline, creating the sense of a neighborhood or community within which the action takes place.
Author Cristina Henriquez does a brilliant job of telling their story. Her writing is simple, down-to-earth, lucid and engaging. The story draws you in and compels you to read on, even as the story becomes unbearably sad. No, I won't tell you what happens. You just have to read this one, and I highly recommend it. One of the best books I've read this year. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This story brought me directly into the lives of these people ..... Hopes, fears, disappointments, and triumphs. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Nancy P.
Skilled write, the plot hooked me and took me for an emotional ride. The end made me cry.Published 14 days ago by Sara A. Codair
Great book to read to understand the perspective of illegal immigrants coming to this country. Not all of them are like people portrayed in this book but majority of them are. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Natalie
The Book of Unknown Americans guides you through the challenges of living in the USA as an immigrant. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Amazon Customer