This morning I will be reading The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez. I bought this book early last month and it was featured in my first Book Haul post for February. It usually takes over a month for me to get around to a book I recently bought. However, I’ve been eager to read this novel because the subject matter is so familiar and personal that I had to read it as soon as possible.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.
After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery–the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes–will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.
At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.
Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.
I’ve read about 50 pages so far and I already know it’s going to be a special book for me. Reading about the experiences of the Rivera family, as they transfer their lives from Mexico to Delaware, resonates with my personal experience. I, too, remember the overwhelming onset of emotions I felt when I moved to America, this strange, seemingly unwelcoming, yet promising place.
I will have a review up in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this teaser, the opening paragraph of the novel:
Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well. We felt it was our right, as much as it was anyone’s, to have those things. Of course, when I think about it now, I see that I was naive. I was blinded by the swell of hope and the promise of possibility. I assumed that everything that would go wrong in our lives already had.
What are you reading this Sunday?