Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans; Christina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans; Christina Henriquez 
Random House Audio - 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans is a wonderful and what seems to be realistic story about the immigrant experience in the US.  It is likely to make my top reads list for 2014. Beautifully written and heartfelt, a story I will be recommending over and over again.

Arturo and Alma Rivera had a good life in Mexico, where Arturo owned a construction company.  One day their only child, Maribel, had a accident at the construction site for which Arturo felt responsible for.  A resulting head injury leaves the couple desperate to help their daughter who has experienced memory loss and is no longer the happy child she once was. When Arturo is granted a work visa to work on a large mushroom farm in PA, he jumps at the chance.

The opportunity  to give their daughter the best medical care possible and school advantages as well is worth the hard, menial work, long hours without lunch breaks which he must endure.  In the US the family lives in an apartment building in Delaware where other Latin American’s also live.  Though adjusting to life in a new country is difficult, they become friendly with another family in their building. The Toro family is also in the US legally from Panama.  The Toro’s have (2) boys, (1) boy is in college of a scholarship and the other boy, Mayor, still lives at home.  Mayor thinks Maribel is very pretty, but the fact that she has difficulty communicating, makes friendship difficult, but before long Mayor proves helpful in helping Maribel communicate.   However, lurking in the shadows is another American boy, who doesn’t have Maribel’s best interest at heart and, his actions cause justified reactions on the part of Maribel’s parents who are extremely protective of their daughter.

The story is told through the POV of both Alma and Mayor Toro, and the author does an awesome job demonstrating the struggles that the Latin-American immigrants experienced.  From homesickness, racial profiling, and the difficulties trying to adapt to a new way of life, each of their issues were heartbreaking.  I liked the fact the antagonists in this story were “white men”, which made the prejudices they suffered by these ignorant individuals seem very realistic.  There were other immigrants who had a small voice in this novel as well, each relaying what brought them to American and what they loved about the US.  I loved hearing their stories but do wish some of their stories were expanded a bit.

This author knows how to tell a story – from the hook early on and the wonderful voices of all, I found it difficult to put this one down for a breather. The audio book is read by a talented cast and I was happy that I had the opportunity to listen to this story.


(The audio book was provided by Random House for review).

 5/5 stars

14 comments:

  1. Wow, what a glowing review! Adding this to my audio wish list ...frustrated that audible lists narrators only as 'various' though.

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  2. Wonderful review. This book seems very relevant to our times. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Hi Diane!
    Thanks so much for this review! I admit I was first drawn by the name of the author, my daughter is Christine Henriques. A little play on letters. ;) I enjoyed your review and will seek out this book to take a closer look. Love your reading suggestions! Best wishes for a wonderful day..I hope it involves a kayak. ;)

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  4. This sounds like just the kind of story I love. I can't wait to read it.

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  5. Seems like a good one based on your rating. Timely theme.

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  6. I've had my eye on this book! It sounds wonderful and important. It's a perspective we don't often see in literature.

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  7. It sounds like the author did a brilliant job in creating and presenting her story featuring realistic people with relevant problems. I am definitely adding this one to my wish list.

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  8. I've been seeing this around lately on various lists, but yours is the first review I've read! I'm adding it to my TBR list - it sounds great!

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  9. Great review, Diane! I am tempted to add this one to my TBR list. :)

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  10. This is so funny. I just looked this up at my local library today. Thanks for reviewing it. I thought it sounded good.

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  11. Looks excellent. I don't read many current immigrant stories. Adding it to my wish list!

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  12. Great review! Can't wait to get the audio from my library!

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  13. Wow, I'm so glad you loved it so much! I agree it's subject matter is very relevant to what's going on in the US today. I'm sure it would be eye-opening.

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