- 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: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,611,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Try to Remember Paperback – May 5, 2010
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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"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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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.
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. Her family expects her to finish high school, live with them until she marries and discourages her from further education.
Gabi meets people who hold different ideas than her family and they open her eyes to alternative possibilities, attending college, and feminism. Mostly, she wants to spend more time outside her home and wishes that her family were not so crazy.
I was disappointed with the way this novel dealt with the serious and chronic mental illness of Gabi's father. It did not ring true and it was here that this book lost its way for me. Even though there are cross-cultural differences in approaches to mental illness, Gabi's father's mental illness did not appear to be taken seriously enough. I enjoyed reading about Gabi and her life. I empathized with her difficult life as a parental child and the only mature person in her family.
This is a debut novel by a recognized poet who currently works as an immigration attorney. The author was born in Colombia and grew up in Miami. The addendum to the book states that this novel "draws on her personal experiences growing up as a Latina in Miami".
Grand Central Publishing
$13.99 - Paperback
Reviewer: Annie Slessman
As a debut novel, TRY TO REMEMBER, by Iris Gomez does not have the "feel" of a first publication. The story is of a young girls struggle to keep her family intact as their father battles a mental illness. Gabriela, the main character of this story, is given the responsibility by her parents to meet their every need without question. She is constantly pressed into service to type and correct her father's ramblings on a daily basis as he scribbles his meaningless letters to everyone in the hope of getting back the millions he feels he is owed. Who owes this money and the fact that there is no money to recover makes Gabriela's job even harder for her to comprehend.
Her family demands strict obedience to their rules and requests. Gabriela who is somewhat Americanized, vacillates between understanding what is the "right" thing to do about the demands of her parents. Her father segways from calm to violent and takes his violence out on anyone who happens to be in his line of vision at the time of his "attacks." Gabriela and her brothers try desperately to get their mother to aid them in dealing with their father's violence and her reaction is one of trying to ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away eventually.
This book is a study of Miami's Spanish community, family relationships, and the fears of those who have immigrated to the United States and the views of a growing teenager. Not to be dismissed, this work is worthy of a reader's time.
Iris Gomez is an immigration lawyer and law school lecturer. She currently lives in the Boston area with her family.