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Las caras de la suerte = A Handbook to Luck
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Las caras de la suerte = A Handbook to Luck

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  294 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
A fines de los años sesenta, tres adolescentes de varios rincones del planeta tratan de encontrar su lugar en el mundo: el cubano Enrique Florit, que vive en el sur de California con su padre, un mago extravagante; Marta Claros, que se las arregla para subsistir en un tugurio de San Salvador; Leila Rezvani, hija de una acomodada familia de un cirujano en Teherán. Los segui ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 21st 2009 by Vintage (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 593)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Cristina Garcia created three likable, colorful characters, any of which had the potential for a great novel on his/her own. Then she inexplicably placed them all in the same novel and switched back and forth between their stories. The result is that we never really get to know any of them or their stories very well. Huge chunks of time are skipped over, and we reenter their lives feeling like we missed too much. There's never any sense as to why they're all in the same book, although they do in ...more
Suzy
Jun 01, 2010 Suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I kept wanting to read, which is pretty high praise from me. Christina Garcia is a good writer and managed to draw up 3 different characters and, as seems to be so popular now, tell a "story" alternating their POVs. Like the movie "Crash," the three immigrants from different countries fall together eventually and by accident, which ends up being why their three stories are being told together. Sort of. The title, I think, must be providing us a hint to another reason. They all ha ...more
Rashaan
Cristina Garcia conjures a magical cast of characters and flits between them at maddening pace in this latest work of hers. Each character comes from a different corner of the earth: Iran, El Salvador and Cuba. They connect and disconnect in the hyper-fantasized realms of Las Vegas and Los Angeles, while we get the breadth and culture of their native lands, which breathes spirit and life into Marta, Evaristo, Leila, and Enrique. What was most fascinating and artfully executed were the relatives ...more
Rosie
Apr 27, 2007 Rosie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this for Ms. Magazine's Spring 2007 issue. Here's an excerpt of that review (you can find it in full in the magazine):

We call the world small as we navigate our often technology-rich, travel-dense lives. A ping in your e-mail inbox signals an old friend who has found you on the internet, a stranger in the airplane seat next to you lived next door to your sister in college. Our lives don’t just touch each other’s, the sensation of a brushed shoulder in a train station staying with you
...more
Greta
Jan 26, 2010 Greta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A BEAUTIFUL BOOK!

Some resonating quotations...

"A white star fell into the garden
Unexpect, unsought. Luck,
arrow, flower, fire..."

~Lucien Blaga

On relativity; perspective...
"Since she couldn't agonize over basic things~ like no money for food, or medicine for dying baby~ she drowned in a drop of water." ~197

"In life there was a before and an after, Enrique believed, a gap between what you wanted and what you got, between what you planned and what actually happened. There were no advanced warnings,
...more
Rainey
Nov 27, 2009 Rainey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All of Cristina Garcia's book are achingly lonely, evocative and speak straight from the heart - typically revolving around the immigrant experience and especially the Cuban-American experience. In her latest piece, Garcia delved into some new territories (Muslim Iranian culture, massacres in El Salvador and even a bit of youthful sibling incest) and proved she's a masterful writer no matter where her pen leads her. “A Handbook to Luck” is, at heart, about the fickle nature of fate, the vagaries ...more
Jill Rockwell
Mar 19, 2014 Jill Rockwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good read. It is not the events so much as the characters themselves, how they think, how they change and adapt..or not, and how they manage their worlds, or their worlds manage them. The little bit of overlap was fascinating. The fact that there is one character the reader can never grasp the thoughts of, I also quite enjoyed that experience.
Jamie
Jan 20, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book artfully weaves the stories of 3 teenagers from different parts of the world into one amazing story about luck, and love, and how circumstance and choice make our lives. The writing is vivid. All three threads of the novel are strong, and how they cross holds. I listened to this book, and the reader was so good, with her voice and accents.
Jody
Oct 07, 2008 Jody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jody by: Ardie
Story is of three young people growing up in different parts of the world, living very different lives. The story alternates between each of their existences as they grow up through the years dealing parents, children, love and work. As usual, I love the international-ness of it. While some of it takes place in the USA, none of the characters are Eurasian white, nor second generation American. From the book cover, I knew the characters would intersect, so I was really curious to see how that wou ...more
May-Ling
May 28, 2015 May-Ling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: authors-of-color
this is one of those books i picked up while wandering the news books area of green library - judging a book by its cover! it's one of my favorite ways to find books at the library.

it turned out to be wonderful - so expressive and you really get invested in the characters, wanting to know how things turn out. the three characters are so different and they all start as children, a poor girl from san salvador, a cuban boy raised in las vegas by a magician father and a rich girl from tehran living
...more
Maria Puig
Apr 13, 2014 Maria Puig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very engrossing. I wanted to give it 5 stars but the book was too short to tell the story of three intersecting characters in the span of 20 years. The book was too short for the author to execute it properly and the ending felt rushed. I would still recommend this book.
Sally
Oct 22, 2008 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to be introduced to interesting characters from diverse backgrounds.
I really liked this book. The characters were interesting - although flawed and not well suited to care for his son, I found the magician to be very likable. His love for his son was palpable, and his struggle to maintain his career took many interesting turns. The other characters also felt very real to me, and their intersections seemed plausible. Not always happy, but that seemed authentic. Garcia writes with such detail, and the characters and settings really came alive for me. There was a l ...more
lisa
Jun 01, 2011 lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
i am reading this REALLY AWESOME book right now. it is a handbook to luck and it is by cristina garcia and i don't know how to describe it. it is regular fiction, and it follows the lives of three people (a boy from cuba, a girl from iran, and a girl from el salvador) as they grow up. and whatnot. i liked its cover ages ago, and i am finally getting around to reading everything on my list, so i took this out of the library and said "holy shit this sounds stupid" and i fully expected to hate it b ...more
Sonia
Jan 07, 2015 Sonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latino-authors
This book was really well written and the characters are engaging. Enrique is smart, good with numbers and takes care of his father, the only family he has left. Marta longs for children but babies her much older husband instead. Leila is the most baffling character - she seems so independent and strong willed but bows to her mother's demands and husband's tyranny. Family obligations, and the life decisions we make because of family, are evident throughout the book - family can be loving and nou ...more
Michele
Jan 17, 2008 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the first book I have read by Garcia, but it is certainly the most memorable. Her characters are so funny and real, and the story so absorbing. The story begins with her three main characters as children in their points of origin (Cuba, El Salvador, and Iran) and over the years, their lives cross in the US. Garcia's language and description makes for an enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book to Cristina Garcia fans, and for those that don't know her, should read Dreaming in Cub ...more
Joanna
Feb 08, 2009 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this novel that links the lives of several very different teenagers who grow up under various social and familial pressures and try to learn to make their ways in the world. I particularly enjoyed the slice of life melancholy of their early years, poverty stricken and forced to accept to much responsibility too soon. A young girl from Iran, a magician's Cuban-American son, a girl growing up poor in El Salvador. My heart goes out to all three, and I kept yearnng for greater happiness.
Carol
Apr 27, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but overwhelmingly sad.
Sonja
Sep 28, 2008 Sonja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My regret was that I read the last page and almost immediately went to sleep. The story haunted my dreams. I should have given myself more time just to think about it because it was that interesting. Garcia threads together the lives of three fascinating people all of whom are displaced from their cultures in some way, and all of whom have parents who ultimately fail them.
G
Mar 21, 2008 G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ground
Frustrating. Garcia has three wonderful characters here and an engrossing story that goes through about two decades, but the book is so short that I felt it was all spread too thin and that I wanted more of each segment, each character, to make it all really come to life. It's rare that I wish a book was longer, but this was definitely a good example of that.
Carrie
Oct 09, 2014 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! A combination of the best in magical realism and contemporary fiction. Seamless interweaving of relationships and dynamics, both entertaining and moving. highly recommend anything by this writer, esp "Dreaming in Cuban."
Shanley
Aug 23, 2008 Shanley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea of the book had potential, but it fell short in execution. The quality of the writing was average and the elements of the story that were supposed to metaphorically or symbolically connect the characters (the recurring themes of birds and water) read awkwardly at times, like the author was trying too hard to work it in to the story.
ingrid
May 30, 2008 ingrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ingrid by: Read a review of it in the paper.
I loved this book and will look for others form the author. It is fiction, and beautifully written. It is a story of 3 people, who we get to know as children. Most of the book is their adult stories. One is from Cuba, one from El Salvador, and one from Iran. Do their stories intertwine? Read to find out.
It does pull at your heart.
HeavyReader
Dec 04, 2011 HeavyReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I picked this up out of a free box in front of a bookstore on Mission Street in San Francisco when I was going through a really hard time. It kept my mind occupied so I wouldn't have to constantly dwell on my problems.

This book wasn't fantastic and it wasn't horrible either. It did it's job adequately.
Sara
Nov 21, 2014 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been over 3 years since I read this book. I don't remember there being much luck in this book, at least not good luck. I suppose it could be a handbook to bad luck.

It wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. And it was a rather sad tale and things didn't wrap up as I expected.
Beth
Sep 24, 2007 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books where the 3 main characters seem to have completely separate lives (in this case one is from Iran, one El Salvador, and one a Cuban living in America), yet by the end of the book the 3 lives are intertwined. It was good, but the ending wasn't very satisfying for me.
Katy
Apr 08, 2010 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories of Enrique from Cuba, Marta from El Salvidor, and Leila from Iran were captivating! Garcia wove a great story of their desires, their cultures, fitting into America while yet remaining true to themselves, and how one decision can change the course of our lives.

Carol
Dec 17, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The way Cristina Garcia weaves the stories of several, very unique characters together in "A Handbook to Luck" reminds me of a beautiful Mayan tapestry. Each color and line stands out individually, but also works in concert with the others to create a wonderful work of art.
Karen
Mar 06, 2008 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fairly good book, well written with interesting characters. But I guess I never really felt "grabbed" by it. I don't know how much I cared about the outcomes of the story lines.

I kept thinking there would be something more...
Jodi
Not may favorite book by Christina Garcia, but a good story. Garcia tells a story of luck (and misfortune) through three characters (from Cuba, El Salvador and Iran) whose lives become interconnected.
Joslyn
Nov 07, 2007 Joslyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not sure whether to label it 'shorts' or not - each chapter stands as a short story, but the characters and story lines pick back up after visiting a few other locations & people. i really enjoyed this book.
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After working for Time Magazine as a researcher, reporter, and Miami bureau chief, García turned to writing fiction. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban (1992), received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. Her fourth ...more
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