THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS, BY CRISTINA HENRÍQUEZ
A very dear friend of mine recommended it to me, saying it's not what I would usually read, but I might as well try it for the Women-Only Challenge, and maybe I would enjoy it. That was a bit surprising, since I always thought myself as a very eclectic reader... But then, I'm always discussing sci-fi and fantasy, so that's probably the reason.Synopsis:
After their daughter suffers an accident, a somewhat prosperous Mexican couple decides to move to America so she could get special education. Once they arrive, they meet the people who live in their neighborhood, who all come from different countries in Latin America and tell their stories, and have to face unforeseen difficulties with dealing with the people and the government.Overall enjoyment:
My friend was right, I did like it :) And, surprisingly, she was also right about this not being something I would usually read. After I finished, I thought about it for a while and realized I hadn't read a book of this type in a long time. I didn't consciously avoid them, just... well, unconsciously avoided them.Plot:
It's one of those stories where you know how it's going to end after the first five pages. But the point of the story is not to be original, anyway. Besides, when you read a romance story, you already know how it's going to end too, right? And it really wasn't an effort to keep reading.Characters:
I really liked them, and they are the reason why I kept reading even though I already knew what was going to happen. There was a moment right at the beginning when I read about Mayor and thought this was going to be that typical story about a boy growing up because of a woman, but (thankfully) I was wrong. The intervening chapters where the secondary characters tell their own stories make a very nice balance with the main story and make the whole book much richer in variety.World/setting:
She barely describes the place where they live in the USA, but the characters' memories when they talk about their homelands is so colorful and vivid you can picture them exactly.Writing style:
Simple and straightforward, very pleasant to read.Representation:
All the characters are Latin@s.Political correctness:
This whole book is about the Latin@ immigrants in the USA, and she makes a very good portrait of them, even in their immense variety. There are amazing quotes, like "Americans can handle one person from anywhere. They had Desi Arnaz from Cuba. And Tin Tan from México. And Rita Moreno from Puerto Rico. But as soon as there are too many of us, they throw up their hands. No, no, no! We were only just curious
. We are not actually interested
in you people."
I'm not sure why I don't usually read books like this. Of course, I have my favorite genres, and I suppose it's natural that I should read them more than others, but for some reason I seem to skip over these "socially conscious" books. I guess I'll try to read more of them in the future.
Up next: Zarah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor