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When Tito Loved Clara
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When Tito Loved Clara

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Clara Lugo grew up in a home that would have rattled the most grounded of children. Through brains and determination, she has long since slipped the bonds of her confining Dominican neighborhood in the northern reaches of Manhattan. Now she tries to live a settled professional life with her American husband and son in the suburbs of New Jersey-often thwarted by her constel ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published March 2011)
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Heather Colacurcio
This is a novel that I found to be quite middle-of-the-road. What happens when you suddenly lose the love of your youth, only to find them again later in life? Can two lives that strayed from one another ever come back together again? These questions are the premise of Michaud's novel, which has a lot of heart, but sometimes roams so far off the path that it feels tedious. The story careens in many different directions, directions that leave us with very little room for the actual story between ...more
This was an okay book. I started out caring about the characters, but as the book continued I cared less and less. The more I learned, the shallower they seemed to me, even though the backstories were interesting. I finished the book halfheartedly pitying most of them but the plot definitely ended with a whimper and not a bang. I don't feel like it was a waste of time to read - parts were enjoyable, but overall I feel lukewarm about it.
I hesitate to say too much about my admiration for Jon Michaud's debut novel, When Tito Loved Clara, because Jon and I are friends and former co-workers, and anything I write will either be biased because of that relationship, or perceived as such. But I will say this much:

I can't easily forget Tito's overwhelming sense of yearning and loss; or Clara's sharply-developed ambitions that form the crux of her coping mechanisms after some harsh realities; or Deysei's incipient maturity, tinted deeply
Lynne Perednia
Some novels are built to read at break-neck speed, to rush through page after page, to be gobbled up without pausing to chew well. When Tito Loved Clara, the first novel by The New Yorker librarian Jon Michaud, is not one of them. No, this is a novel to savor, to want to live in for days and days, to learn all about these characters that they will reveal.

Tito is a boy-man who never got over his high school love, Clara. He has lived a life of quiet desperation, helping his building super father a
Librarians, Newark, New Jersey -- three things I love dearly, in one one told by multiple narrators. Really, there's not much more I can ask for in one of those stories that yawns wide and swallows you whole. I had such a hard time putting it down, reviewing the details as I rubbed the bottom right corner, itching to get to the next page. As I realized the direction the story was headed -- too late, as the characters themselves realized it -- I felt like I was punched in the gut.

I loved the con
An easy read and interesting story, but I felt that the writing lacked finesse. It felt like a draft of what would be a good novel with some more work. The use of language is inelegant, and the author often spells out to the reader something that would best be dealt with more subtly. The concepts of the immigrant experience and the blending of cultures is interesting, and the story line develops this well (if a bit obviously). However, the books contains a little developed subplot irrelevant to ...more
I thought this book was well-written and heart-felt, and very earnest. The characters were interesting and complex, and I admired the author's attempt to delve into complicated issues around identity and immigration. I was disappointed by the plot, which I found overdramatized, and ultimately I found the book very depressing.
Tito is the son of Dominican immigrants, living in his parents house, working for a moving company, lonely and pining for his high school girlfriend. Clara is the daughter of Dominican immigrants, an ambitious college graduate, living in the suburbs with her white husband and their son. The story moves back and forth from their high school years to the present, and from Tito's viewpoint and then Clara's. Characters are a bit stereotypical, except for Tito, who is deeper and more introspective th ...more
This book was hot and cold to me..there were moments that it flowed really well and the story kept my interest and times when it didn't. All in all it was a pretty good book and I liked it enough that I would try another one by the author, but this one just didn't rock my boat.
Sally Whitney
When Tito Loved Clara, Jon Michaud’s debut novel, could have been called A Tale of Two Towns. Most of the story is split between the community of Inwood in northern Manhattan and Millwood, a fictional town in north central New Jersey. It could also have been called A Clash of Two Cultures because it tells of the troubled relationship between two second-generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic, one who is content, or at least resigned, to stay with the old ways and the old neighborhood a ...more
I think I heard of this book on NPR. Clara and her husband (Thomas) met at Library School! The author is the head librarian at The New Yorker. Clara is born in the Domincan Republic, but raised in New York (Inwood) by her father and second wife. Tito is Clara's high school boyfriend (part of her senior year and summer before she goes to college.) Clara's niece, Deysei (her mother, Yunis is Clara's half sister; she still lives in Inwood, but decides to go back to the D.R. with the hopes of receiv ...more
This book could have been called When Ayelet Loved Tito and Clara.
As someone who has lived in both Upper Manhattan and Northern NJ, I felt intimately acquainted with the setting. I have friends who went to Kennedy and I could picture them being classmates with Tito and Clara.
What I loved most about the book was the reality and verisimilitude-- and that reality isn't always happy and pretty. The characters all know this, which is why they imagine different, alternate lives for themselves- or, li
A bit of a departure for me. A Man and Women who dated when they were younger have lost touch. They each went on with their lives and meet up again later. Each have major family drama, though the Women more so, both in her past and currently. But their lives are back and intersecting. Lots of flashbacks as well which could have been formatted better, but I enjoyed them a lot. A simple story with lots of characters that I oddly didn't have too hard of time telling apart and the times that I could ...more
Izetta Autumn
I had no idea what to expect from this novel, however, I was pleasantly surprised. It's such a moving story - which stays with you after you've read it. True, I have some questions about how whiteness and "striving" are portrayed, and I'm left wanting to know what happens next to the characters - the novel doesn't seem complete. I'm one who often complains that a novel is too long, but in this case, I wish there were in fact, at least about 30 pages.

When Tito Loved Clara is a debut novel - and i
Kept my interest the whole time. A bit scandalous and not cliche at all. Its like life lessons of things that end up happening everyday. No villains or good guys..just people.

The only thing that I didn't like was the constant jumping to flashbacks in the middle of a sequence in the "present" of each character that was focused on.

Gets me confused. Otherwise, not bad
There is something about this writing style, descriptive yet very precise and very clear, that really clicks for me. The characters seemed very much like unique individuals, especially Tito. I guess I haven't read many books that explore the inner worlds of blue-collar Latino men. The plot was really interesting (there is some serious family dysfunction!), although I felt it kind of lost its coherence at the end, once Tito and Clara's reunion took a turn for the worse. How neat is it that the au ...more
the end was eh. but I always think that
Jane Thomson
I felt this book started well, but I couldn't finish it. It had so many dark undertones and I found myself not enjoying either of the main characters. That said, I found the writing vivid and would read another book by this author if the chance arose.
Amy Turner
I picked this up at work because it looked good and the protagonist and her husband are librarians. At first I thought librarianship was not an important part of the book, but the job is symbolic of Clara's flight from her poor immigrant roots. Makes me think of the Time Travelers Wife where working as a librarian was a respite from involuntary time travel. At work, we talk sometimes about how libraries are not as low stress as they used to be, but compared to a third world lifestyle and time tr ...more
Atar Hadari

A tautly paced but romantic look at love the second time around. Clara ran away from her teenage sweetheart and pregnancy to go to college and make good with an American husband: she now finds herself childless and middle-aged when her old flame Tito comes knocking on her door. An unsparing look at the American dream, it'll string you along and then tear your heart out. Recommended for anyone old enough to have made even one decision they think might not have been true to their heart.
Tito and Clara where secret high school sweethearts in their Dominican neighborhood in Washington Heights. Clara grew up and moved on, but not Tito. This novel is about what happens when a series of family catastrophes and coincidences brings their lives back together.

Great characters, great prose. The plot occasionally borders of melodramatic, though, and I often found myself rolling my eyes throughout much of the second half.
Shirley Freeman
I liked this a lot. It's a good story about the costs and benefits of the immigrant experience. It takes place in New Jersey but many of the characters are originally from the Dominican Republic. There are not clear cut answers nor a clear cut ending but the main character comes to a new understanding about the cost to relationships when immigrant children inevitably leave their parents behind.
K2 -----
Good summer read, a first novel of merit from one of my favorite publishers Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. All the characters deal with the ghosts of the past, and with dreams of what was, and what might have been. Tangled with heritage are dreams of a better life and food that brings the smells and tastes of home back into the present.

Certainly an author to watch and a great debut.
A novel written by a real librarian, with a librarian protagonist. Gotta read it. Enjoyed the book and the references (pun intended) only a bibliophile or librarian would get. (i.e. "Let's meet at SIBL" and "AACR" (cataloging rules) Set in New York City Inwood district, which I used to work in, and suburban New Jersey. Well rounded characters, and interesting dialog.
The story of immigrants from the Dominican Republic settling in Northern Manhattan is very well told with wonderful portrayals of the two main characters, Tito and Clara. The point of view and the time sequence shift in an interesting way. There were surprises at the end and many touching sections. The talented author is a librarian at the New Yorker, too.
This had an interesting story of a high school love gone bad and then adult love gone bad and high school love ocmes back - but no happy ending anywhere - I thought maybe this guy forgot what he was writing about. Always love stories that take place locally but not enough to recommend the book. A nutley library book club read.
Nathaniel Smith
While Jon Michaud might one day write a good novel, this was not one. While it promised to be an interesting journey through a Dominican-American experience, it failed to deliver on even that trite goal. The characters were not likable, and seemed to suffer from alternating random and completely predictable motivations.
I enjoyed every minute of this book. Interesting, compelling, believable characters, finely textured and interwoven sub-plots and stories and, perhaps most of all, a wonderful reflection of culture clash and modern family life. I would recommend this book to anyone. An auspicious debut novel to say the least.
This was a good book and I enjoyed it, even though I wanted a different ending. What I did love about this book is that being a former resident of Washington Heights, I understood the geography of everything written by Mr. Michaud. This book was sad and moving and the characters are believable and enjoyable.
Nick Licata
Absolutely loved this book. The author does an excellent job of planting the seeds of the strong themes early on and having them flourish by the end. I also love the contrasts of the different worlds the characters live in, the haves and the have-nots as well as the immigrants and the non-immigrants.
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