Kkraemer's Reviews > The Barbarian Nurseries

The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar
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's review
Oct 19, 2011

it was amazing
Read in October, 2011

For the first time in awhile, I had to fight myself to do anything but read this book. An Orange County family, with a dad who works hard and a mom who is trying to be the best mom she can possibly be, has an incident that results in their two sons being left with the housekeeper/cook for 4 days. She panics and tries to take them to their grandfather, but doesn't realize that he no longer lives at the address she has. The parents panic (where did she take them? why? will she smuggle them to Mexico?), the maid searches for someone to take care of the boys (how could the parents leave them? how can there be no family? how can people be so isolated?), and things spiral out of control (Illegal Alien Kidnaps American Children).
Tobar's writing is razor-sharp: he shows how people think and how they make sense of this world. One boy, seeing a homeless encampment, is sure that it's a village from one of his science fiction books. Another character sees an ant invasion as evidence of her incompetence. A woman takes 4th of July celebrations as proof that her country has been rent asunder.
I found myself caught between wanting to read this book as fast as I could (to find out what happened) and wanting to read slowly (to savor the insights, the great lines).
A great book about class, ethnicity, borders, politics, families, and life in these United States.
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