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The World in Half

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  430 ratings  ·  70 reviews
From the prizewinning author of Come Together, Fall Apart comes a mesmerizingly beautiful first novel about family, home, loss, and forgiveness that more than fulfills the promise of her earlier work.

Miraflores has never known her father, and until now, she's never thought that he wanted to know her. She's long been aware that her mother had an affair with him while she w
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 2nd 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published February 20th 2009)
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I think we all have places, hobbies, or experiences that feel like they belong to us. They are so intimate and meaningful in our lives that it seems impossible that someone else could know it and understand this thing like we do. Panama is that to me. It feels like it is mine: jealously, exclusively mine. It's not often I run into other exchange students, and it's never that I run into someone else who has lived in Panama. So to pick up a book that is set there I immediately felt a flare of jeal ...more
This is one of the best books I read in a long time.
I read her first book, "Come Together, Fall Apart" & was looking forward to the release of her new book & Ms. Henriquez does not disappoint.
Ms. Henriquez's writing elicits so many emotions from the reader with her direct, yet familiar prose. Reading her books is like sitting with a dear friend & sharing your life with all its flaws & knowing that in the end you will be all right.
Her characters have been wounded by their pasts b
"The World in Half" -Cristina Henriquez (2009)

This book hit me in my emotional core, way more than I thought it would. Having just returned from a trip to Europe, the purpose of whihc was one part travel, one part visiting a friend and one part finding myself, I related to the protagonist on so many levels, even though our situations were quite different. I found myself writing down quotes from the book as well - they weren't mindblowing or profound, but they made sense and echoed my own sentime
IQ "It's more Spanish than I've ever spoken with anyone. But with limitations comes freedom. I don't have the luxury of relying on the automatic expressions I have at my disposal when I'm speaking in English. There's no default mode of communication, few standby phrases and ready-made sayings. I have to think about how to express myself. I have to be creative and take roundabout routes to get across what I want to convey. Which means that I say things I never would in English. Ideas occur to me ...more
Marisela Chavez
Mira's is a story of finding (a semblance of) peace of mind by reconciling what she can about her estranged Panamanian father while nursing her young mother through early onset Alzheimer’s. Mira lies to her mother and takes a secret trip to Panama, says she's studying volcanoes in Vancouver, Washington. Mother doesn't know Mira's found the love letters that answer her daughter's aching heart: he always did want his baby; He's not a monster. Her search for identity unfolds while searching for her ...more
I am pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book which I won during last year's BPL Summer Reading Program. Twenty-something Miraflores is searching for her long-lost father in Panama. She's also escaping trouble at home and discovering who she is/can be along the way. She happens to be a geology student and observations about geophysics serve as parallels to the storytelling.
"I believe the earth has a memory. That everything that's ever happened through time has left its trace in fine,
Bethany Stephens
I really loved this book, which I also inhaled while on vacation in Florida. I've found I particularly like a number of authors from Central and South America: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia), Paulo Coelho (Brazil), Isabel Allende (Peru) and now Cristina Henriquez (Panama).

Like Come Together, Fall Apart, Henriquez doesn't go to the expected, and she conveys the Panama landscape and the lingering effects of the building of the Panama Canal with prowess.

I was delighted to recommend this book to
I'm really not sure what prompted me to read Cristina Henriquez's The World in Half. Sure, I've been waiting forever (but really, about two weeks or so) for her newest novel The Book of Unknown Americans to come in at the local library. The plot sounded okay, reviews were okay -- I guess the book falls into a niche that I rarely read, and I wanted to balance myself out a bit.

Okay, and it seemed like a fast and easy read. And it was, so there was that, too.

Anyway, yeah, Henriquez's The World in H
Koby Jargstorf
I bought this book expecting to fall in love after reading The Book of Unknown Americans. I did.
Miraflores' story was extremely accessible, despite not being the most common. Everyone could find a bit of themselves in her, and this is one of the features that makes the story such a successful one. The other characters are all beautifully written as well. The struggles presented all seem as simultaneously basic and complex as ours. Readers of all age have something to find in The World in Half.
Gabriel Oak
Really great text for thinking about the paradox of finding your identity. How can you find something that is with you all the time? And of course the mother's Alzheimer's dramatizes the threat of losing that identity once you have finally found it.

Poignant debut novel about a girl with a mother suffering from Alzheimer's who journeys to Panama to try and find the father she never knew. Most of the novel takes place in Panama, as Miraflores (she's named for one of the locks of the Canal) search
I felt something was left to be desired, Im not sure what. But a generally interesting and moving story about a college student who goes looking for her birth father in Panama.
Judy Churchill
What a poignant, beautiful story! It's a story of life, love, and family told as Mira's mother was slowly losing pieces of herself to Alzheimer's Disease and Mira was searching for her Panamanian father. From two different worlds, Panama and Chicago, this story spanned two generations. As the laborers, one of whom was Mira's father, worked on the Panama Canal, the legend was that they were cutting the world in half, but Mira experiences her mother's illness as the event that cut her world in hal ...more
There was just something lacking in this novel. True it was well written, and presented a realistic view into the world of dementia etc. I could never bond with the characters, and I never clearly understood the mother's reasons for shutting down and cutting her lover the father of her child out of their respective lives. They had such a wonderful chance at happiness, I just couldn't justify her decision to cut him completely out of their lives.Was he a married man? She just moved back to the st ...more
Stephanie Steinberg
This was disappointing especially in light of how much I enjoyed this author's other book "The Book of Unknown Americans." This was a very superficially told story about a girl who goes to Panama to find her father, who she has never met. Not very engaging or well written.
This book explores the difference between what a daughter knew of her mother, and reality. Most of the book, takes place in Panama, when Mira goes in search of her father, a father she thought abandoned her, but meanwhile, her mother abandoned her father.

As you learn about the mother, you can see the similarities between her actions and Mira's, and wonder if history is going to repeat itself. The descriptions of Panama are wonderful, and you really learn more about Mira, her mother, her father
I have devoured the three Cristina Henriquez books and look forward to reading more from her. She tells these stunning stories that have universal elements, while being firmly rooted in specific places and cultures. That is a fine line to walk.

It was interesting to read this book at the same time as the graphic novel La Perdida by Jessica Abel. There is an echo of elements between the two books (view spoiler)
An amazing book. I bought the book for my trip to Panama. No regrets. The story was full of twists and turns and there were lessons in history, geology, friendship, and love.
From the beginning this book captured my heart. My mother is from Panama and she met my father while he was in the Army stationed in Panama in the 70's. As a young girl i have visited many of the places that Mira goes to, and while reading this it makes me want to explore my life more. For one, I need to go back to Panama. This story is very close to my heart, because my life could have ended up like Mira's if things between my parents didn't work out. It was very hard back then, my mother has t ...more
Nancy Dardarian
A lovely book, really wonderful. By the author of The Book of Unknown Americans which I loved as well.
I wrote this as I was reading it: I am loving every second of this novel! It's so easy to read it's like I'm hearing it right from her mouth - opposed to sitting and reading it. It's smart and witty, deep and meaningful - without being overly techical or detailed. It's great, I'm half way through and highly recommend it.

Now that I've finished it - It was fantastic. It was moving and deep. It was one of those books that really moves you and when you're done reading it, you hate that you have to
The World in Half is a beautifully written story that has a certain underlying magic to it. The characters are first introduced as one-dimensional, with simple thoughts and emotions. However, once the novel progresses, their depth and complexity become apparent and there is more to them than meets the eye. The plot itself it interesting, but I think the most compelling thing about the book is its quiet hold over the reader. I kept reading on further and further, not because of thrilling plot twi ...more
This book was really sweet, I read it fairly quickly. It's about a young college aged woman (a science major at that), who sets out to Panama to find her father who she's never met. I enjoyed the struggles of maintaining and building new relationships with her mother and friends.

As another reviewer pointed out I also enjoyed the little quips about geology throughout the text and relating rocks and earth formation to her emotional struggles.

I wouldn't say the books was mind blowing-ly amazing bu
interesting, contrite, lovely... then it ended too soon.
A young college student from Chicago journeys to Panama in search of both her long-lost father and a sense of personal identity. There's not much action, but the writing is lyrical, the setting unique, and the final pages quite poignant. My only quibble is that more time wasn't spent with the main character's mother, by far the most compelling person in the book. Because the author was a frequent visitor to my old library, I also can report that she's a nice person, as well as a fine writer.
Interesting symbolism- world in half with Panama and the canal, her world in half- before her mother's Alzheimer and after.
I liked how there were the little tangents having to do with earth science.You wouldn't think it would be a good way to link the main characters situations but it was really clever.

I think it had the message to do what you want with your memories. you can save them, use them or bury them. I also think that Miraflores realizes her mom's ways and doesn't want to be the same. she used her mom's memories as history /grounding/the world/a map to find her own life.
Read it in a day, loved it. The main character Mira is very relatable, and I was on the edge of my seat as I followed her through her adventure to find her father in the country from which she gains half her genetic make-up, Panama. She also struggles with her mother's early-onset Alzheimer's, a condition that makes it hard for Mira to hate her mother for hiding the fact that the father she's never met wanted to be a part of her life since her birth.
Dec 30, 2009 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Liz
This novel was beautiful from start to finish. Henriquez's descriptions of landscapes, emotions, and even geological phenomena are exquisite. I was completely enthralled in this entire book, and not just because of how much I related to Miraflores, the protagonist caught between two cultures. I simply can't wait for more writing from Henriquez; everything I've read I've loved and been impressed with.
Slow moving, and cliche avoiding, this is a novel about love and belonging, and what we are willing to do to bring about or avoid a personal connection. Miraflores knows her absent father is from Panama, and the journey to find him leads her in a direction she could never have planned. How does one find oneself in the reflection of ones parents? Her effort to try is an interesting and moving story.
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Cristina Henríquez is the author of the novel The World in Half, and of a short story collection entitled Come Together, Fall Apart. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and elsewhere, and she was featured in Virginia Quarterly Review as one of “Fiction's New Luminaries.” She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the recipient of an Alfredo Cisneros De ...more
More about Cristina Henriquez...
The Book of Unknown Americans Come Together, Fall Apart

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