In Continental Divide, photojournalist Krista Schlyer illustrates the situation at the U.S./Mexico border through both words and photographs. The firsIn Continental Divide, photojournalist Krista Schlyer illustrates the situation at the U.S./Mexico border through both words and photographs. The first few chapters contain vivid prose and breathtaking photography depicting the natural landscape of the region. The book goes on to describe the groups of people who have inhabited the area and ends with a discussion of U.S. border policy.
I absolutely loved the first few chapters of the book. Schlyer describes the natural world with such reverence and awe that it left me longing to visit the region. Desert life had evolved brilliantly to persist through long periods of drought and then make the most of the brief periods of rainfall. I loved reading about the saguaro cactus, creosote, and desert wildflowers. The photographs of the wildlife and geologic features add immensely to the words on the page.
Of course it isn't all scenic landscapes and beautiful sunsets in the borderlands. The latter part of the book deals with what is happening to this land, the wildlife, and the people as a result of the border wall and US policy. Sections of the border wall cut through wildlife preserves, disrupting migration patterns and isolating animal populations from one another. People that could move across the border freely for generations in these remote areas can no longer do so. The photographs in the latter part of the book also become very sad. Ugly walls cutting through pristine wilderness, memorials and graves for all the migrants that died in the desert, it was just all really sad.
I realize that immigration policy is a very complicated and controversial issue, but I think that Schlyer puts it well in the last few pages of her book, stating the people who talk the loudest are often asking the wrong questions. It isn't about how to keep people out, but how to share a border with a country with such a different economic reality, and how to respect the beauty of the natural landscape so that both countries can benefit. No easy answers to any of these questions. ...more
This book follows two families who move from Latin America to an apartment complex in Delaware. There are also various chapters told from the perspectThis book follows two families who move from Latin America to an apartment complex in Delaware. There are also various chapters told from the perspectives of other immigrants who have moved to the apartment complex.
I really liked the book, but it was also very sad. Many of the characters have a lot of struggles adapting to life in the United States and there is some tragedy.
I have read a lot of novels that feature strong Latina women, and in doing so, these novels often seem to paint a negative portrait of Latino men. They often seem to be abusive and womanizing, or just completely absent from family life. This book features a refreshing change in the character of Arturo, a loving and supportive husband and father. ...more
This book was really well written and the story was engaging, but I didn't love it. It was nice to read Latin American fiction that wasn't magical reaThis book was really well written and the story was engaging, but I didn't love it. It was nice to read Latin American fiction that wasn't magical realism. 3.5 stars....more
The Feast of the Goat is a work of historical fiction that recounts the latter years of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. At times it reaThe Feast of the Goat is a work of historical fiction that recounts the latter years of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. At times it reads more like non-fiction than fiction, and I often felt like I was reading a history book. Most of the characters are historical figures, including Trujillo and his assassins. The author took a lot of liberties describing their inner lives, and it was interesting to read his depictions of the thoughts and motivations of historical figures. (In the book, Trujillo was struggling quite a bit with his incontinence and impotence. Whether this is based on historical evidence I do not know.) That was really the odd thing about the book, everything was so historical, I didn't know what really happened and what didn't.
I am glad I read the book, although it was slow reading and dense. If you are interested in Dominican history, I would recommend it. Be warned that there are some very graphic descriptions of torture and abuse at the hands of the Trujillo regime. ...more
Good book. The story kept me reading and I liked the writing. There was something about the writing style that made me suspend disbelief about some ofGood book. The story kept me reading and I liked the writing. There was something about the writing style that made me suspend disbelief about some of the odd plot twists. ...more
This book follows the journey of Enrique, a Honduran teenager who travels to the United States to be with his mother, who migrated to the United StateThis book follows the journey of Enrique, a Honduran teenager who travels to the United States to be with his mother, who migrated to the United States when Enrique was five. Enrique travels through Mexico on the tops of trains, constantly dodging the dangers of Mexican police, gangsters, and immigration authorities.
The book deals with important issues, but it isn't a particularly good book. The present tense writing style was awkward and dull. Despite the horrific events the author tells about, it was difficult for me to empathize with the characters because the writing style failed to evoke any emotion. The writing was also repetitive. The author goes on for pages and pages about people being robbed, beaten, falling of the train, etc. I probably sound horribly cold-hearted, but by the end of it all, I found it hard to care. I would have preferred just to read the original articles the book was based upon. ...more
The Lady Matador’s Hotel takes place in an upscale hotel in an unnamed Central American capital. It tells the stories of six individuals whose lives iThe Lady Matador’s Hotel takes place in an upscale hotel in an unnamed Central American capital. It tells the stories of six individuals whose lives intersect in significant and not so significant ways. The varied characters of the novel include a Mexican-American-Japanese matadora who is competing in a high profile bullfighting competition, a Korean businessman who is under scrutiny for labor rights violations at his factory, a Cuban poet who is in town to adopt a child with his American wife, an ex-guerilla who is a waitress at the hotel, a lawyer who handles international adoptions, and an army colonel who has committed many human rights violations in the country’s recent civil war. It takes place against a backdrop of political turmoil and upcoming controversial elections.
The book was well written and engaging. It was interesting to see the ways the lives of the characters intersected. Each section of the book focuses on a different character. Sometimes the characters appear in the sections of others, often as nothing more than a passing in the hallway, but as the reader you know what each of them is doing there, despite the fact that they barely notice each other. There wasn’t much of an overarching story to the novel, but the individual stories really kept me interested. ...more
For the most part I liked this book. It is told by multiple narrarators and I liked some of the the sections better than others. I think I would haveFor the most part I liked this book. It is told by multiple narrarators and I liked some of the the sections better than others. I think I would have appreciated the book more if I knew more about Domincian culture and more Spanish. ...more
This book is a collection of autobiographical essays by Julia Alvarez. In the essays, she writes about things such as coming to the United States fromThis book is a collection of autobiographical essays by Julia Alvarez. In the essays, she writes about things such as coming to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a child, cooking and gardening, and her experiences with writing.
One of her essays was about research she was doing for a book about a woman in Necedah, Wisconsin who was had visions of the Virgin Mary and established a cult following. It was interesting to read about the ideas she had for the book and how they were transformed during her visit to Necedah, and how she ultimately decided it wasn't a book she could write. I guess I'm just fascinated by the writing process.
I have this image of my favorite authors sitting down to write and the words just instantly flowing poetically from their pens or computers. Alvarez writes a lot about the struggles and insecurities that accompany her writing, which I never really think about. Understanding her writing process makes her writing even more engaging. Her essays very beautifully describe the experience I have while reading well written literature.
I would recommend this book to anyone, especially my sisters who are interested in writing. ...more
This is the story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo regime. Her entire family is heavily involved with the oppoThis is the story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo regime. Her entire family is heavily involved with the opposition movement, and many of them have fled to the United States. I love the voice of the main character. She is struggling with the normal issues of a young teenager, while also living under an oppressive regime where much of her family is in very real danger. A good read for adults, both young and old. ...more
It took me a really long time to get into this book. If it wasn't written by Barbara Kingsolver I don't think I would have continued reading. To me, tIt took me a really long time to get into this book. If it wasn't written by Barbara Kingsolver I don't think I would have continued reading. To me, the first half of the book was long and drawn out set up for the second half of the book. During this time, the narrarator is living in Mexico where he works in the household of the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and thus becomes acquainted with the Soviet exile Lev Trotsky. There were a few interesting parts in this section of the book, but it was mostly just mundane and I kept waiting for it to end.
I just never felt attatched to any of the characters at this point. I didn't get a strong sense of who any of them were, or care much what happened to any of them. I have always loved Kingsolver's characters, so I was really disappointed by this.
I really enjoyed much of the second half of the book, especially conversations that Harrison Shepherd has with Violet Brown and Arthur Gold about the political and social climate of the United States and the anti-Communist fervor. I've never really read much about this period of American history, and I don't know how accurately Kingsolver captured it, but I loved the points about how most people really didn't know what Communism was, they only knew what anti-Communism was. The book illustrates well how easily people become afraid and suspicious of their neighbors when only a few years before they had rallied as a country and made many sacrifices to support the war efforts.
When I heard Kingsolver speak about this book, she said that was really the crux of the book for her. The time in American history when people came together and were sacrificing so much for the war effort to the time when it became un-American to question government policies or express any sentiments that America still had work to do as a country. I really liked the parts of the book that dealt with this theme and I just wish it had gotten to that point quicker. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It is It is a fictionalized account of the real life of Teresita Urrea, who lived in Mexico in the late 1800s. She had heaI really enjoyed this book. It is It is a fictionalized account of the real life of Teresita Urrea, who lived in Mexico in the late 1800s. She had healing powers and the gift of clairvoyancy, and was known as the Saint of Cabora. She was seen as a rebel by both the Mexican government and some higher ups of the Catholic church, although she preached much about the teachings of Jesus.
There were a number of things I really liked about this book. I loved the differing perspectives of the characters that were newly arrived Europeans, those of European descent who had been in Mexico for generations, and the indigenous people. There were a few passages that were interesting perspectives on the unique blend of religion and culture.
I loved the depiction of Teresita in the novel. Towards the end of the novel she was spiritual and profound, but well balanced with wit and humor. I really liked some of her techniques of active non-violence towards the end of the novel as well.
I was kind of disappointed by this book. I have really liked all of Allende's fiction a lot, and was exicted to read this one. This book is told fromI was kind of disappointed by this book. I have really liked all of Allende's fiction a lot, and was exicted to read this one. This book is told from the perspective of Dona Ines Suarez, who is a foundress of Chile. At first I was really interested in the conquistador time period, because I've never read historical fiction set in that time. However, I very quickly lost interest. There were too many descriptions of battles between the Spanish and the Incas and the Mapuches, and it just became really tedious to read about them again and again. I really just didn't care. And I didn't like Ines all that much... I didn't dislike her, I just didn't like her as much as I have liked many of Allende's other characters. Maybe because she is an acutal historical figure, Allende couldn't take as many liberties in character development, I dont' know...
the book was still fairly good, and i enjoyed most of it, but i think if i was more interested in the historical time period, i would have liked this book a lot more. ...more
this book was really interesting. i can't believe that a place like this actually exists. i mean i guess i can really. i'm really fascinated by prisonthis book was really interesting. i can't believe that a place like this actually exists. i mean i guess i can really. i'm really fascinated by prison issues and latin america, so this book was a good combination. i would be interested to hear about the prison from the perspective of a poor bolivian, rather than from an international drug trafficker with lots of connections, but its really depressing to think of people in poorer sections of san pedro prison who have absolutely no money to buy their cell, food, or anything else you need to survive there. the book was a really easy read and i would recommend it to anyone. ...more