The Book of Unknown Americans

Cristina Henríquez. Knopf, $24.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-385-35084-6
In Henríquez’s latest, Arturo and Alma Rivera move from Pátzcuaro, Mexico, to Delaware in hopes of securing a good education for their beautiful teenage daughter, Maribel, who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Alone, isolated by language and poverty, the Riveras struggle to get by: Arturo works 10 hours a day at a mushroom farm, while Alma worries about predatory men taking advantage of her daughter. In the same apartment building lives Mayor Toro, the misfit son of Panamanian immigrants, who soon falls in love with Maribel. The budding romance, however, threatens to tear their families apart. Meanwhile, Henríquez (The World in Half) gives space to the voices of other immigrants—men and women who have fled their South American and Central American homes to make a better life in a country that, as often as not, refuses to acknowledge their existence. Evoking a profound sense of hope, Henríquez delivers a moving account of those who will do anything to build a future for their children—even if it means confronting the fear and alienation lurking behind the American dream. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014
Release date: 06/03/2014
Genre: Fiction
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