Esperanza Street, by Niyati Keni, is set in the 1980’s in a small port town in the Phillipines. It is the story of Joseph Santos, who works as a houseboy in a boarding house. The reader watches Joseph grow up from a little boy to a young man, with his own girl problems and family issues and all the other things teenagers deal with, all against the backdrop of a community that is about to be replaced by a shopping mall.
Joseph is the perfect narrator for this story. He’s less cynical than many of the other members of the community, and his innocence leads to him not quite grasping things that seem obvious to the reader.
At the beginning a lot of characters were introduced very quickly, but it didn’t take long for them to become distinct and easily recognizable. The writing was fantastic and the story was moving and believable. The only thing that would’ve made it better would be a map of the town. Overall, Esperanza Street was a wonderful book. I highly recommend it, and I can’t wait to see what Niyati Keni comes out with next.
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