Friday, April 9, 2021

2021 - 54 - Infinite Country; Patricia Engel

 

TITLE/AUTHOR:  Infinite Country; Patricia Engel

PUBLISHER:  Simon and Schuster Audio

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction / Latino Family Life

FORMAT:  audio download /LENGTH: 4 hours and 58 min

SOURCE: Library download

SETTING(s):  Columbia and US (Texas) (New Jersey)


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A story of a mixed-status family divided by two countries.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Infinite Country  had been getting a lot of buzz so I decided to try it.  I liked the fact that it was a story about felt a bit different from anything I've read lately.

As the story begins we meet Talia, a teenage girl who has been sent to a Catholic reform school in Columbia for committing a violet act against a man that she witnessed harming a stray cat. (Ok as an animal lover this brief incident almost made me call it quits but, I already felt I could relate to Talia's impulsiveness and thought she was brave and that her anger was justified so I continued.)  After tying up a nun at the reform school Talia is able to escape.  Her father Mauro meets her with a plane ticket to the US, the place where Talia was born.  Her mother Elena, brother Nando and sister Katrina still live in the US.

The story then backtracks to Talia's parents story,  (Elena and Mauro) a young couple escaping poverty and war in Columbia by way of a visa to the US.  Their story of the pursuit of the American Dream is met with numerous obstacles and interactions with people who take advantage of them as Mauro works hard to make money for his family.  Just before Talia,  their third child is born, Mauro is detained for a small infraction and sent back to Columbia for over-staying his visa.   Shortly after the couple's separation, Elena is forced with an unthinkable situation.  Since she is unable to work to support her children with Mauro back in Columbia because she has no one to care for her newborn infant,  she makes a heartbreaking decision and sends Talia back to Columbia to be raised by her grandmother.  

This is a short novel - the print version is just over 200 pages and the audio just 4+ hours and the story covers a period of 20 years. It is brief yet compelling look at the life of a struggling family separated from those they love and doing what the must just to survive.  I found Elena's story as a mother trying to raise young children after her husband had been deported especially sad. The things she had to endure and had to be silent about were difficult to read about at times.  This is not a character driven story and although I was glad I listened to it, the writing did feel a bit uneven at times.  I do think this one would make a good discussion book.

RATING:  4/5 stars

21 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good one to get a different perspective.

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    1. Yes, it sounded like a story that might have been partially autobiographical. I did read the author was from Columbia.

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  2. This book is all over right now. I keep seeing it everywhere. I had no idea what it was about though. Not sure it's for me but it's a plus how short it is.

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    1. I was going to skip it but, my hold came up pretty quick and when I saw how short it was I decided to try it.

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  3. I will be reading this in the coming weeks. It sounds like a book I would feel deeply about.

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    1. I wasn't going to read it but, it made me think about American Dirt which I liked. Nothing upbeat about this one though.

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  4. It seems like there is so much that is relevant and important in this book. I've seen it on a lot of blogs so may give it a try.

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    1. The good things is that it's short as it really is a downer of a read.

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  5. God. This sounds incredibly hard to stomach. And for such a short novel, it sure packs a wallop of an emotional punch.

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    1. Yes, it's a tough read in many respects for such a short book.

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  6. I suspect that the 2020s are going to be the decade of immigrant novels, and honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about that. I look towards my reading as an escape from the everyday world lots of times, and if this particular trend becomes as dominant as I think it's about to, it's going to be harder and harder to escape into current fiction like I used to. I'm not saying this is a bad thing to be writing about, just that I may burn out on the topic sooner than later.

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    1. Sam, I agree with your point, a few novels like this are fine but, like ALL the WWII novels has been way overdone IMO. I like fiction as an escape as well.

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  7. The forced separation is so common here with many men living in Europe and the UK who have not got their "cards" so that they cannot get their families on the one side, and on the other they cannot leave. They cannot go back then. The disruption and sadness in this case mainly due to economic reasons I feel is not justified though others think differently and think it is worth it, to have a roof over your heads, education for children etc. I just think of the emotional impact on two sides.

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    1. I did not realize this was common in Sri Lanka as well. I am sure it is difficult for all who are in this type of situation. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. The immigrant story is rife with sadness and sacrifice. So many obstacles to overcome in order to have a chance for a better life. The struggle is an endless source of drama and a rich trove of material for writers, as reflected by how frequently such stories turn up in fiction these days.

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  9. Yes Dorothy, I am noticing more and more immigrant stories it seems. I know that no two are a like and all quite difficult to read about

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  10. I was struck by how there were no good answers for the family members. You suffer if you continue down one path and you suffer if you change and take a different one. No easy answers.

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  11. I didn't realize this one was so short, 4+ hours?. I'm #62 on the wait list for it. Friends of mine here are from Colombia so I'm game to read it.

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  12. I'm planning to read this soon. Have the ebook on hold at the library, but I'm going put a hold on the audio, too!

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  13. Every time I read a new review of this book, I hear something else about it that I hadn't known before. I love how many different facets there are in this book and that makes me want to read it.

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  14. I really want to read this one and imagine it will be a sad story especially as there is so much in the news about families separated, etc. I just cannot imagine how hard it must be to take on a journey which you know will be filled with obstacles but yet it is still the best solution. It's really heart-breaking.

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