Tuesday, March 8, 2016
The Book of Unknown Americans
Title: The Book of Unknown Americans
Author: Cristina Henríquez
Genre: Fiction, Immigration
Oh. My. Goodness. Can I tell you how much I loved this book? My parents came here from Mexico before I was born. Our story is much different from those of the characters in this book because technically, my dad was an American born in Mexico. However, they settled in a border city because being too far from Mexico just left them both unsettled. Go to a border town-they truly are different worlds. But I digress. This book gave me just a little peek at what my mom (who was a "full-fledged" Mexican until 2001, when she became a naturalized citizen) must have gone through when she arrived here in the States. Even in border towns, where there is more sympathy and acceptance for recent arrivals, people can still be awful to one another.
In this particular book, Henríquez weaves together a tale of many families or people who have come to the U.S. from Latin American countries for a variety of reasons. It's set in a run-down apartment building in Delaware, of all places. Their voices are real, and they're full of life, hope, and pain. I am NOT a cry-baby (though if you ask my older brother, he'd probably bring up all kinds of stories to the contrary), but this book had me crying from laughter and crying from sadness.
Henríquez is a brilliant author, bringing her characters to life with such tenderness and true-to-life experiences. Their voices shine beautifully through their words, and really, I just wanted to give so many of them the hugs they desperately needed.
My recommendation: If books move you, have a box of tissues nearby. Otherwise, you'll have to use your shirt or your bedspread (which was not greatly appreciated by anyone who jumped into mama's bed that night). Definitely a book to add to your reading list for the year.