its really hard to believe that mr. boyle lives anywhere near the US/Mexico border. His portrait of the subject is trite, ham-fisted and overly simplified.
In the world of the tortilla curtain, being a liberal means that you recycle. In the world of the tortilla curtain, being hispanic means you are either unbelievably downtrodden and unlucky or you're carrying a knife and willing to use it.
early in the novel, the protagonist hits a hispanic man with his car. when he goes to see if the man is ok, the hispanic man responds in some wicked, foreign tongue, and we're treated to a passage along the lines of: "this man wasnt speaking norwegian...no, the US doesnt share a three-thousand mile border with Norway. No...this man was Mexican, and the langue he was speaking....Spanish." I dont remember the exact passage but its something along those lines. I remembered it because it was so laughably horrible. Good lord.
Really, this book is just awful. It seems to be a favorite of quasi-literary middled aged house wife book clubs though...so, whatever, read whatever you want.