The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel

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Arturo and Alma Rivera come to Delaware from their home in Mexico hoping for a better life for their only daughter, Maribel, whose brain injury the year before has “taken away a part” of the girl they adore. Their new neighbors in a modest apartment complex have all come from different places and situations, but they all share the experience of being immigrants. Rafael and Celia Toro are more established, and they welcome the Riveras and try to help them find their footing. The Toros’ son, Mayor, is drawn to Maribel’s beauty and isn’t initially sure how to relate to her as someone with a disability, but as they spend time together, he comes to like her, and the two seem to bring out the best in each other. But economic stresses, as well as old burdens of guilt and worry, plague the Riveras, and getting along in a strange place is difficult. Their life is precariously perched, and small events threaten to tip them off the edge.

Henriquez’s novel is a reminder that books can allow readers to walk in others’ shoes, breaking down walls that keep us from remembering how alike we all are in many ways. It’s a powerful story that touches on grief, forgiveness, love, and hope.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2014-Jun-03
ISBN 9780385350846 Buy this Book
Issue September 2014
Category Modern Literature


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