cover image How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

Angie Cruz. Flatiron, $27.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-20845-3

Cruz (Dominicana) returns with a wry story of the Latinx community in New York City’s gentrifying Washington Heights in the late 2000s. Cara Romero, a single woman in her 50s, is unexpectedly jobless after the factory where she worked shuts down. The state’s Senior Workforce Program provides her with meager benefits in exchange for attending weekly meetings with a job counselor. During the sessions, Cara’s monologues range widely, addressing her history of abuse, heartache, and affairs. She knows she has a tendency to get off topic (“When someone asks me about mangoes I talk about yuca,” Cara tells the counselor). Cruz intersperses the sessions with Cara’s questionnaires, job skill tests, and eviction notices, all underscoring the unjustness and absurdity of the economic shifts that have upended the lives of Cara and her neighbors. Cruz expertly avoids idealizing her indomitable protagonist into a flat victim, although not much of a plot emerges from the monologues—sometimes Cara just prattles on. However, readers who persist through the occasional narrative snag will be rewarded with a tender and quintessentially American portrait. Agent: Dara Hyde, Hill Nadell Literary. (Sept.)