- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press (May 3, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802124895
- ISBN-13: 978-0802124890
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Veins of the Ocean: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
After Carlito Castillo, on Florida's death row for tossing his girlfriend's infant daughter off a bridge, commits suicide, his sister, Reina, a manicurist, abandons her weekly prison vigil and moves from Miami to the Florida Keys. She wants to disappear, to process her loss and dissect her brother's actions, yet she quickly befriends Nesto, a Cuban exile. She learns of Nesto's own jail-like life in Cuba, and about the family he left behind and continues to support. Before long, the two become inseparable, romance blossoms, and Nesto begins teaching Reina about YemayÃ¡, orisha of the oceans, whom he claims Reina must appease in order to right her sibling's past. Now working in guest relations at a tourist dolphinarium, Reina uses Nesto's teachings to observe the park's confined dolphins, captives stolen from their natural habitat for the amusement of humans, and she begins a journey of self-discovery and reflection, developing a plan that will bring one of YemayÃ¡'s children back to the open sea. Engel (Vida) has written a thought-provoking novel about different types of prisons, including Carlito's physical imprisonment and Reina's mental and internal incarceration. The author writes with vivid language, building a world of equal parts misery and hope. (May)\n
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Sumptuous . . . [a] plunge into deeper, darker realms . . . the novel offers proof of its author’s developing maturity . . . Engel writes with a raw realism that elevates her characters’ mundane existencetheir failures and failings, hopes and dreams, pleasures and painsto something majestic. At the heart of her storytelling is a deep sense of compassion. This is a writer who understands that exile can be as much an emotional state as a geographical one, that the agony of leaving tugs against the agony of being left behind . . . to immerse oneself in Engel’s prose is to surrender to a seductive embrace, a hypnotic beauty that mingles submersion with submission.” Lucy Scholes, New York Times Book Review
"Lush and entrancing, steeped in love and sorrow, faith and myth. This is a novel about redemption and place and home and the bonds of family, how inescapable they are, for better and worse . . . Patricia Engel is a gorgeous writer and I love the confidence of her prose. She knows the story she is telling, inside and out. She knows the story and its unfathomable depths and so that's how we experience reading this novelfully, deeply, like an ocean." Roxane Gay, Book of the Month
Engel’s work is often backdropped by diaspora, but in The Veins of the Ocean she tackles immigration head on via the story of a Colombian woman escaping her family’s past.” O, The Oprah Magazine
[A] profound, daring venture . . . with a rare intelligence, juxtaposing the crushing separations and struggles experienced by immigrants with the power of connection, as embodied by the sea . . . [Engel is] a unique and necessary voice for the Americas . . . so lucid and nakedly honest that the book is a great pleasure to read, even while it’s breaking your heart . . . This, mercifully, is a book as concerned with transforming the human condition as it is with the unflinching examination of its wounds. It takes place in a world full of borders, violence and prison walls, and, also, in a world where the stunning beauty of a wild dolphin can take your breath away and give you the strength to get free. It takes place in three lands separated by yawning political chasms, and, also, in three lands linked by the sea, by the mysterious sea, brimming with beauty, life and power. In short, it is our world, mirrored back to us, revealed anew.” San Francisco Chronicle
Fast-paced, irresistibly alluring . . . Engel’s voice is lyrical . . . she has an all-seeing eye that misses nothing . . . The Veins of the Ocean is a tale of redemption and restoration that believes forgiveness is unattainable until one forgives oneself.” Miami Herald
Poignant . . . a sea of lush language . . . The Veins of the Ocean is [Engel’s] best yet . . . filled with fascinating characters and beautiful prose.” Tampa Bay Times
"Engel’s voice is raw and emotional, and she writes a dark family dynamic with a brutal honesty that is at once both refreshing and painful. But through it all, love remains the constant thread in [this] story." Book Riot
"This bubbling stew of a novel . . . [is a] great pleasure." Toronto Star
"In a novel that is vitally relevant today when the word refugee has such loaded connotations, Engel delivers a pulsating . . . and deeply introspective take on how family, love, and guilt can both 'chain us together' and set us free." Booklist (starred review)
"Engel is able to find a lightness in a disturbing story to carry the reader through the novel. But this effervescent, breezy voice does jar, at times, with dark subject matter. Still, Engel has crafted a detailed, rich world of vivid atmosphere and imagery . . . A dark comedy with unexpected heart." Kirkus Reviews
A haunting and touching tale . . . Engel’s writing is powerfully descriptive and lyrical . . . the book leaves the reader with faith in the world.” Book Riot, one of the Best Books of the Year So Far
"The Veins of the Ocean is an indelible novel of loss, grief, and redemption. Patricia Engel has created a world that is at once sensuous and dangerous, authentic and poetic, harrowing and hopeful." Laila Lalami
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Top Customer Reviews
The not-so-good: the flashbacks, told in past tense, are too numerous and lengthy. They both explain and take you out of the story. In fact, I would say there are two stories going on at the same time. Reina's present life, which is told in first person, present tense; and the flashbacks, which are, I think, meant to explain why she is who she is and what she needs to do to change. However, it's just too much.
Then on top of that, there's a third narrative going on: myth. There is a myth to parallel every other scene. They're good myths, in some cases, like after Nesto and Reina take action (don't want to spoil it), but it's distracting. I found the pace a little too slow, and have to admit I began skimming toward the last third of the book. I get the feeling Ms. Engel put a lot of effort into this book, and it's beautiful, but it might have benefited from some trimming.
The story read as true and moving, and gave me a unique perspective of immigrants' , their trials and tribulations.