Wednesday, March 16, 2016


This novel has too many narrators, all Latino, who originated in a variety of countries.  Some are U.S. citizens, some have work visas, and some are undocumented.  Their heritage is as diverse as are their reasons for coming to the U.S., specifically Delaware.  The main families are the Toros (from Panama) and the Riveras (from Mexico).  The Toros have two sons—Enrique, who is away at college on a soccer scholarship, and Mayor, who cannot possibly live up to his brother’s standard.  The Riveras are new to the neighborhood, having left behind a comfortable life in order to pursue educational opportunities for their beautiful, brain-damaged daughter Maribel.  She and Mayor become close friends, but Maribel is naïve and therefore at risk of being exploited.  All of the characters struggle in one way or another—with their jobs, with their families, with the language, with the bigotry they endure constantly.  They make some serious mistakes, particularly the young people, but Alma, Maribel’s mother, withholds information from her husband, and then wonders if things might have turned out differently if she had been more forthcoming.  I really don’t like this type of foreshadowing.  Why does the author feel the need to warn us that this secret will lead to serious trouble?  For one thing, we know that secrets in novels rarely remain secret, and when the secret is exposed, all hell is going to break loose.  Also, there are some kind and helpful non-Latinos in the novel, especially the people at Maribel’s school, but none of the bad guys are Latinos.  Don’t get me wrong.  Certainly the Latino population in this country needs to have a voice that touts their immense contribution—economically, culturally, intellectually.  However, I agree with some other reviewers that this book’s perspective is a little skewed, and that detracts from its valuable message and its impact.

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