Spring Deals Automotive HPC Magazine Deals New-season heels nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Only: $44.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon TheGrandTour TheGrandTour TheGrandTour  Echo Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Kindle Paperwhite GNO Shop Now TG18PP_gno

on October 13, 2017
I really don’t know where to begin. This is a life-changing book – a story that will put you in the shoes of people we see everyday – but don’t really see. The book follows two parallel stories – one of a poor, illegal immigrant couple who have landed in Southern California in desperate search for a better life. The other is that of a comfortable, white couple thriving in the suburbs. What is most interesting as these stories unfold is the disparity between what each couple worries about and struggle with on a daily basis.

For the immigrant couple the daily worry is in finding safe shelter, food, employment; security of any kind and survival on the most basic level. The suburban couple worries about getting a bigger commission, what material to use for their kitchen counters, saving the environment and where they should eat out for dinner – the pressures do not revolve around survival, but rather around maintaining – and expanding – their level of comfort and luxury.

This is a tale of our times.

The story is not told in a manner that condemns the suburbanites – but, instead, demonstrates that this is who they are, how they have been raised culturally – they are a product of our mad dash to the security of a white-picket fence in the suburbs – the result of isolation, cut off from the real suffering of others, making these things seem less real, less human.

One must ask – why do we worry more about stray animals and trees than the suffering of people in our own nations and around the world? Is it because we have cut ourselves off from their need – because it is too painful to witness and we feel too helpless in changing their circumstances? Or are we so safe in our hermetically sealed communities that we forget that others are not doing so well.

Immigration is not a new challenge to our nation. We have never, truly done a good job of assimilating new arrivals – they have often been discriminated against and discouraged by any means from thriving. We all fear, this is not new, that our nation cannot possibly hold another soul – or that this new group will work for less and take our jobs. The irony is, that our jobs are being sent overseas – much of the work done by immigrants is work we feel is beneath us – menial.  But, honestly, that is neither here nor there.

Our failure, on so many levels, is in not recognizing every one of these people as just that – people. They are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers – doing everything they can to survive. Many of us, if we go back a couple generations, have a plumber, farmer, factory worker or mechanic in our family tree. Go back a couple more and new probably have some newly arrived immigrants – lost in a new world trying to make a better life.

Do we know where we come from? Do we know what our ancestors experienced – the discrimination and struggle – that has resulted in our comfortable lives? They wanted a better life – the question is – do we know when we have arrived (gotten what we came for), or is it always a pursuit for more?

Reading this book made me uncomfortable. It made me feel ashamed for the dissatisfaction I have felt for my car, my TV or my cell phone – I realized how much I have to be grateful for and that my comfort should be utilized to help others – not create ever more luxurious comforts.

The Tortilla Curtain reminded me a great deal of Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko,  Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Food, Inc and Lone Star, all of which do a tremendous job of portraying the plight of Mexican Immigrants as they struggle to enter our country and earn a living. I don't know that I am an advocate for illegal immigration, but I certainly feel for them in their struggle. This is a great challenge - one that our nation needs to face sooner rather than later.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on April 24, 2015
This is my second time through this book. I read it when it first came out years ago and remembered it somewhat but did not feel the need to bypass any narrative on my second pass. I think it is a powerful book that many people would benefit by reading. I read it this time for book club discussion and I'm really anxious to hear what others in group felt about it. I understand now that it was written as a satire but the characters, to me, did not seem exaggerated or stereotyped, which is the complaint of some. I found all the characters very believable. There are many excellent reviews of the book details so I won't take the time to do that but I very highly recommend it!
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on September 5, 2015
Tortilla Curtain is a strong, effective examination of the causes and consequences around illegal border crossing in the American Southwest. It is brutal in its examination of the reasons for illegal border crossing—clearly, very few people are doing it just for the adventure. The author also explores the perspectives of American citizens living near the borders. On both sides of the issue there is fear, willingness to exploit the situation and risk of injury and death.

While Boyle thoroughly explores both sides of the border-crossing issue, he leaves the reader to draw her/his own decision about resolution of the issue. I understand that the issue is ongoing; however, I expected and would have liked to read this well-informed author's presentation of a resolution.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 5, 2018
How far would you go to keep immigrants out of your community? In this brilliant book by T.C. Boyle, we meet two couples: Affluent and liberal Delaney and Kyra, who live in a mansion in a gated community in Topanga Canyon, California; and Cándido and América, illegal Mexican immigrants who are camping at the bottom of the canyon for lack of anywhere else to live and trying to survive on a few dollars a day—when they are lucky. (Oh, and America is 17 and pregnant.) The story opens when Delaney, driving his Lexus up the curvy and hilly canyon road, careens into Candido. This begins a parallel plot of the two couples whose live unknowingly intersect and are destined to collide. It's a classic story of the haves vs. the have-nots, but told in such a personal way that it will grab your heart and not let go.

The writing is exquisite, and the characters so fully developed they nearly pop off the page. Boyle is such a talented writer that he honestly portrays the characters feelings, actions and traits—good and bad. I felt sympathy for all of them, as well as frustrated and annoyed with them. It's real life in a book!

But know this: It is not an easy read emotionally. As a reader, you will be drawn into the characters' problems and tragedies and it affected me powerfully.

The most surprising part of "The Tortilla Curtain" is that it was written well over 20 years ago and is still absolutely relevant today. How much does it truly cost to keep immigration at bay? And how much does it cost to live the American way of life or is it a dream that can never be realized?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 7, 2017
One of the best books I have read this year !! First one I've read by TC Boyle .This is an extremely well-crafted , multi-layered novel that really has it all-- subtle humor, not so subtle , even crass humor, serious social commentary, exciting action, environmental issues, complex interaction among the well developed characters, and a really believable stage for it all to unfold on with superb ,unmistakably tangible scenes described so well you honestly feel that you are there .As a weird testimony to how deeply involved I got , I was actually sad to finish the book and will miss finding out more about Delaney, Kyra, America , Candido and a few of the other very interesting characters in this great book. I had to pinch myself and remember this is art not reality . I read the paperback and listened to the Audible narration by the author which is extremely well done.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 15, 2015
As one friend put it - reading this is a life changing event. In the midst of a brutal political season ( the book was written a few year ago, however) in which Latino immigrants especially have been vilified, the book shows the difficult lives faced by those who choose to immigrate. It also provides insight into how those who otherwise consider themselves to be "openminded" and indeed "liberal" find themselves morphing into angry, wall building people who are afraid of "the other." The topic is current and crucial - and the writing is up to the task of illuminating this difficult discussion.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 20, 2017
This is an amazing book... written 17 years ago but so relevant to the class separations in society today...this between the haves of SoCal and the have nots, those coming from Mexico only to earn a decent llving and have a better life.....it builds to a surprising climax but is gut-wrenching throughout...masterfully written..all the women in my book club agreed...
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 7, 2012
The Tortilla Curtain follows two couples in Los Angeles: Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher live in a gated community. Delaney spends his days writing newspaper columns about nature. Kyra is an aggressive real estate agent who sells expensive homes. The other family, Candido and America, are illegal Mexican immigrants who camp at the bottom of a canyon and struggle to find work on a day by day basis. The book begins with Delaney driving his Japanese car and hitting Candido. Candido is badly injured, but Delaney just wants to get out of the situation without his insurance rates going up. First he checks to make sure the car wasn't damaged. Candido, being an illegal, does not want to see a doctor. So Delaney gives Candido $20 and goes on his way. Candido struggles back down the canyon. It takes him many weeks to recover from the accident.
The books follows the two families contrasting their work, their meals, their homes, and their values. The contrasts between the two lifestyles are written well. However, the reader does not relate to Delaney and Kyra as well as he can to Candido and America. At the end of the book, the two families' lives intersect. However, the last part of the book seems to ramble as Boyle looks for a way to end the story. I found the ending lacking and unsatisfactory.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 1, 2014
This was a very good story; my first read of T.C. Boyle and based on this book, I will read more of him. While the overall plot and themes should be of interest to anyone, the book particularly resonated with me who lives in California (I was able to really visualize the settings).

I liked Boyle's technique of alternating points of view between the Mossbachers and the Rincons in each chapter - felt it was very effective. I also appreciated that he did not take a stance in his views, leaving it up to the reader to form his own conclusions. To that point, I felt that his deliberately crafted ending was perfect. This is a great candidate for a book club (I am setting forth it as a suggestion for mine) and should provoke quite a lively discussion of its many themes.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on September 18, 2012
T.C. Boyle is a great cultural and geographic observer, and does a wonderful job of writing about the characters and country that make this the great and entertaining State of California. The descriptions of the bit players make me wonder if Carl Hiaasen took a road trip from Florida to help out a friend in California.

The story is about the life and hardships of two Mexican immigrants to California, and the juxtaposition of their lives with the successful denizens of canyon country of North West Los Angeles County.

The borders between the daily lives of the two families Boyle describes are more impenetrable than the Berlin Wall; but those borders of class and economic standing pale beside the gulf of misunderstanding between the two families. But unlike the wall that kept the cold war protagonists apart, the families of Boyle's narrative meet, and those meetings often result in clashes that rip both families out of their accustomed patterns, and seldom in positive ways. Boyle's description of the results of those meetings gives us some entertaining insight into his characters, and ourselves,

Boyle's imagined and believable tale of struggle, defeat, hope, despair, achievement and failure is entertaining reading; and makes one think about values and humanity. For anyone who has lived in California, Boyle's observations of all of us ring true and reminds us that while we can impact the land, we probably can't conquer it and working together is the only way to survive.

Sorry if I sound preachy. The book is not. It is a great read. Buy it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse