Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Book Of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

What would it take to make you leave everything you know and love behind to start over somewhere else?  Your family, your friends, your house, your language, all you know and love and that makes up your identity.  It must be either overwhelming difficulty where you are or the hope of an amazing opportunity somewhere else.  In The Book Of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez introduces the reader to characters who have made this decision.

There is the Rivera family.  Arturo is a business owner in Mexico.  When his daughter is injured and needs special schooling, he gives up his business and moves his wife and daughter to the United States, where he is now a mushroom picker, spending his days in a dark room, thrusting his hand over and over into the dirt to search out and retrieve mushrooms.  He daughter Maribel slowly starts to get better as the months go by and her school helps her retrieve her former skills.

The Toro family lives in the same apartment complex.  They came from Panama and the dad works as a breakfast cook in a diner.  Mayor is the youngest son, always trying to live up to the reputation of his big brother, who won a soccer scholarship to college.  When he sees Maribel in the local Dollar Tree, he is struck by her beauty.  As the families become friends and the two teenagers get to know each other, Mayor and Maribel fall in love.  Their families do not approve and attempt to keep the two apart.  This relationship and the fallout from it make up the mainspring of the novel.

Henriquez has written a book that will open readers eyes to the lives of our most prevalent minority, that of the Hispanic population, although their immigrant stories ring true from those who come from other countries as well.  She deftly outlines the difficulties of starting over in a land where you must struggle to support yourself, to even make yourself understood.  The incredible hope in a better future it takes to start over is demonstrated, along with the difficulties.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in the changing population in the United States.


Becca Lostinbooks said...

This is on my to-get-my-hands-on list! Glad it is a good one!

Sandie said...

I've got it here saved safely for you.