cover image Flores and Miss Paula

Flores and Miss Paula

Melissa Rivero. Ecco, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-327249-1

A Peruvian immigrant and her 30-something daughter struggle to get along while sharing a Brooklyn apartment in Rivero’s heart-rending latest (after The Affairs of the Falcóns). At the outset, Flores discovers a cryptic note from her beloved late father Martin (“Forgive me, if I failed you”) tucked beneath the wooden urn holding his ashes. She’d love to uncover the meaning of the note, but is preoccupied by her finance job at the Bowl, an app startup with revenue problems founded by a college friend. Meanwhile, Flores’s mother, Paula, has just marked her two-year anniversary at the dollar store where she’s worked since the death of her husband from cancer, and pines for Vicente, a married man and fellow Peruvian. Flores questions her mother’s friendship with Vicente as much as Paula bemoans her daughter’s long hours spent in the office, wishing Flores would devote herself to finding a husband. Before Paula works up to sharing the truth about Martin, Rivero mixes up a stew of drama. First, office politics draw Flores into unexpected predicaments at the Bowl, where she’s caught between the managers’ competing visions. Later, Paula falls and hurts her arm after unexpectedly encountering Vicente with his wife. It all hangs together nicely, setting the stage for a surprisingly moving conclusion. This is a treat. Agent: Julia Kardon, Hannigan Getzler Literary. (Dec.)