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The Iguana Tree

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  308 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Set amid the perils of illegal border crossings, The Iguana Tree is the suspenseful saga of Lilia and Hector, who separately make their way from Mexico into the United States, seeking work in the Carolinas and a home for their infant daughter. Michel Stone's harrowing novel meticulously examines the obstacles each faces in pursuing a new life: manipulation, rape, and murde ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 4th 2012 by Hub City Press (first published February 27th 2012)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first heard this author speak at the South Carolina Library Association conference a few years ago. The book came up again when I interviewed two women from my in-person book club for an episode of the Reading Envy Podcast, and they both spoke highly of it.

I'm waffling between a 3.5 and 4 stars for this book. On the one hand I do not feel the writing is particularly good. There is space for beautiful, lyric writing, and instead much of it feels more like a narrative of stuff that happens. The
Sam Sattler
Mar 22, 2012 Sam Sattler rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-novel
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to begin by stating that I hold firm opinions pertaining to the impact that the millions of people who have entered the United States illegally are having - particularly as to how my hometown, Houston, is affected by the thousands of them who now call this city home. For that reason, I do not come into a book like Michel Stone’s The Iguana Tree with an entirely open mind. I admit that. I do, however, try to see both sides of the issue, so Stone’s novel ...more
Connie Vincent
May 28, 2012 Connie Vincent rated it it was amazing
I hope there is a sequel.
May 02, 2013 Diana rated it it was amazing
Two-day read. Couldn't put it down!! Just wow!
Mar 14, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
A beautiful book.
Mar 13, 2012 Ti rated it liked it
Shelves: books-sent-to-me
The Short of It:

The Iguana Tree is written with compassion, yet provides only a brief glimpse into the lives of undocumented workers.

The Rest of It:

Hector, Lilia and their newborn daughter live in Puerto Isadore and dream of a life in America. As the novel opens, Hector has paid someone to take him across the border. The plan, once there, is to find a job, save money and send for Lilia and the baby as soon as possible. Lilia, impatient to be with her husband, finds passage herself and what follo
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I had a really tough time writing this review, and I can't exactly place my finger on why. I love novels that tackle tough, timely issues like immigration, so I was excited by Stone's story of a Mexican couple crossing the border and trying to make a home in South Carolina. While reading this book, I was appreciative that Stone didn't whitewash the experiences of Hector and Lilia, but at the same time, I felt some disconnect with their story.

I think, for me, this book didn't feel particularly nu
Diane S ☔
Jun 01, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
There is no doubt that the immigrants coming from Mexico have a very hard time of it. So many people, from the coyotes to regular people take advantage of them and terrible things happen to them. This book is the story who come over from Mexico, the husband first and later the wife. Can't say I much cared for the husband, Hector, he seemed like the typical macho dreamer until the very end. I did like his wife and felt very bad for her and the things that happened to her. Don't know how I actuall ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Jennifer rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2012 Liz rated it liked it
An odd book. It started off well; I felt a mix of suspense and hope about the characters' prospects. But before too long, the plot took a dive off a cliff and never recovered, while Hector and Lilia began to seem rather passive and flat. There were also some strange insinuations that seemed uncontested, namely that Lilia should have better obeyed her husband and that the characters' downfalls were the fault of their own bad choices rather than certain international political and economic factors ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Sharon rated it really liked it
Timely, well written, and moving. One young couple attempting to fulfill a dream of a better life, illegally come to the US. The cost of this move is devastating, even though the father finds work and many good things in the couple that hires him. He's respectful and a great help to the American who doesn't want to lose his ancestral land to development. The book kept me engrossed start to finish.
Karen Zacharias
Feb 05, 2013 Karen Zacharias rated it it was amazing
A tender and troubling look at the topic of immigration, not as an issue but as a story. Our city has chosen it as its One Book One Community read for 2013.
Sara DeSantis
Nov 29, 2016 Sara DeSantis rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for my American immigration class. I really enjoyed it! The story was so interesting and I couldn't put down the book. I wanted to know what happened. And the more I read the more that happened. I am confused about the ending. Luckily the author is speaking to my class so I will get to know what happens.
A good novel to read about illegal Mexican immigration from the perspective of an illegal immigrant.
Jan 10, 2017 Michele rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable book. I would recommend it!
Aaron Records
Sep 08, 2012 Aaron Records rated it it was ok
The story could have been great, but the writing was not enough to engross me and I often relied solely on plot to get me through the novel. At the end I also didn't feel as satisfied as I'd like to have been, and I'm not saying this in a "I don't like endings that don't give complete closure" way but in the sense that the novel didn't intrigue me enough to have many questions at the end of the book other than "I wonder what happens to Alejandra." I'm sure many people feel differently, but I hat ...more
Vera at LuxuryReading.Com
Feb 16, 2016 Vera at LuxuryReading.Com rated it it was amazing
I 19ve never read anything 13 fiction or otherwise 13 on the subject of illegal crossings from Mexico to the U.S., and Michel Stone 19s take on the issue made me really think about the circumstances that would drive someone to undertake such a dangerous journey. The Iguana Tree is compellingly and beautifully written; I kept turning pages to find out what would happen to Hector and Lilia, terrified at their situation. I could not imagine handing off my child to a stranger, but also understood th ...more
Richard Gilbert
Nov 09, 2014 Richard Gilbert rated it really liked it
This is the story of a Mexican man who crosses into America illegally at great risk and discomfort, makes his way to South Carolina, where he works for a nurseryman on Edisto Island, and tries to save money to pay for his wife and daughter to be smuggled.

The narrative cuts back and forth between his new life and hers back in Mexico, and it seemed slow-moving. But then she decides to make her own arrangements and hires her own smuggler, and the novel becomes exciting. Her husband must flee his f
J.E. Thompson
Apr 28, 2014 J.E. Thompson rated it it was amazing
This book steps on the land mine of illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States with a deft touch with will remind the reader of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath or Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The book is never preachy, and the author does not create false heroes of her main characters, two young, idealistic Mexicans who are determined to find a better life in the USA. Regardless of where a reader comes down on the legal and political issues surrounding immigration policy, every reader wi ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Judith rated it really liked it
The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone is named for the beautiful tree at home that Lilia envisions when she needs take her mind off her pain. Her husband Hector survives the terrifying trek across the border into the United States, is befriended and employed and in time, finds himself trusted and respected for his hard work in a beautiful orchard on the Carolina coast. He is already beginning to save money so he can send for Lilia and their baby daughter to come to this land of dreams, when Lilia naiv ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Theresa rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story that was told in this book, if enjoyed can be used to describe a situation that is so heartbreaking as the one told here. However, I did sometimes have trouble with the writing, particularly the dialogue, which did not ring true to me. I tried to look past this, because the story is an interesting one, but I was very often distracted by dialogue that felt stilted or was used to provide information or forward the story in ways that felt unnatural. At times, the story also felt ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Gail rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, book-club, kindle
This book told the story of illegal immigration from the view point of a young Mexican immigrant and his wife. I felt like the author didn't make the case that illegal immigration was worth the risk of death and deportation to make the effort. I am not arguing that it isn't in some cases, it just didn't seem like the life of Hector and Lilia was so awful to make the risk worth it.

I got bored with the story, because for the first half the story, everything went so well with Hector after he immigr
Apr 19, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
The author has a pretty obvious agenda which is to humanize the story of illegal immigration. she does that quite admirably. The characters come alive nicely. The story is presented with nuance and it has a decent ending. One quibble--when dialogue is presented that is supposed to be in Spanish, it it seems stilted. By contrast, when English-speaking characters talk, or the Mexican characters attempt to speak English, the dialogue is fresh and funny. I think the writer could have done the same t ...more
Elizabeth  Holter
Jul 14, 2012 Elizabeth Holter rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
One star for interesting subject, another because I got to meet the author and hear her description of why and how she wrote itt. I admire her for tackling it and getting it published, and she is a lovely person. Beyond that, I had a difficult time with the writing - lots of telling, not enough showing when it comes to the characters, who are, after all, the heart of the story. I found myself picturing the story as a well illustrated graphic novel with dialogue bubbles.
Jun 13, 2012 Brooke rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating glimpse into the world of illegal immigrants in the southeastern United States. (How has a novel like this surfaced before?!) It's a quick read that humanizes the political immigration debate--great for folks who want a better understanding of what it's like to live under the radar. Some events in the plot are tough to read and may not be suitable for young readers, but I think that's what make this book so honest.
Apr 19, 2016 Nicky rated it really liked it
I loved this book and made me realize the lengths people go to to get into a different country - risking their lives and souls in search of "a better life".
We hear so much about illegal immigration but not so much about the people that are smuggling these people across the border and of course the cases like Alexandria's which is a common occurrence.
I think the book should be a must read for everyone as it really gives you a glimpse into the mind of an illegal immigrant.
Derek Wilmott
Aug 13, 2013 Derek Wilmott rated it really liked it
As other reviews mentioned, the story is riveting and a quick read. However, the story seems a stilted. Character development could have provided more depth that would invest the reader with the story. Also, the second half of the book seems rushed to an ending. Overall, Michel wrote a very compelling story. Readers are drawn into the multifaceted world of undocumented workers and their life choices.
Kathi Sikora
Sep 09, 2012 Kathi Sikora rated it really liked it
A fast read, but good character developement.
Once again, putting a face on migrants in the USA. Very scarey, very sad but very real.
Highly recommend!
Liked it better than Into the Beautiful North. Had some humor, but seemed more real.
Not sure Lucas was believable. Maybe harder to find compassionate people in real life.
Mar 01, 2013 Bonnie rated it liked it
The Iguana Tree is a riveting , sad story of illegal immigration. Michel Stone does a very good job of telling this through the eyes of a couple and the realities of the horror as well as the hopes of their entering the U.S. across the Mexican border illegally. This was a painful and very sad read.
Feb 07, 2013 Judi rated it it was ok
Complicated issue, one-dimensional characters, sad story. The writing seemed aimed at a youth audience or an audience not comfortable with English. The author could have made this a happy book, but wisely chose not to. The same story, written as non-fiction by a journalist, would have been compelling.
Dec 13, 2012 Melody rated it liked it
Coming to Southern Voices 2013

The family's story was definitely what carried this book. Showed that the author had certainly researched her story line. I definitely want to know what happened to (I guess this is a spoiler alert) that baby and would read a sequel just to find out. Although I can't help but predict it can't be good news.
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Michel Stone is the author of The Iguana Tree, and has published more than a dozen stories and essays in various journals and magazines. Her work has appeared numerous times in the Raleigh News & Observer's Emerging Southern Writers series. Stone is a 2011 recipient of the South Carolina Fiction Project Award. She lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
More about Michel Stone...

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