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The House of Broken Angels

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,748 ratings  ·  1,989 reviews
The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story, a sprawling and deeply felt portrait of a Mexican-American family occasioned by the impending loss of its patriarch, from one of the country's most beloved authors.

Prizewinning and bestselling writer Luis Urrea has written his Mexican coming-to-America story and his masterpiece. Destined to sit alongside other classic immigr
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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Mom Yes, stick with it! It's kind of like going to a big family reunion -- people wander in and out, you recognize some, not others. But if you stay long …moreYes, stick with it! It's kind of like going to a big family reunion -- people wander in and out, you recognize some, not others. But if you stay long enough, you'll know everyone, and you'll hear some amazing stories!(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  11,748 ratings  ·  1,989 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew I wanted to read this book the minute I heard about it. A very special thanks to Goodreads friend, Truman. His passion and energy for this book had me jumping with my own excitement.

“Big Angel, [patriarch of the family], was turning seventy. It felt very old to him. At the same time, it felt far too young. He had not intended to leave the party so soon. I’ve tried to be good, he told his invisible interviewer.”
“His mother had made it to the edge of one hundred. He had thought he’d at
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"The entire history of his family, the world itself, the solar system and galaxy, swirled around him now in weird silence, and he felt blood dribbled down inside his body and the clock, the clock, chipped away at his existence."

4.5 stars

Big Angel (Miguel Angel De La Cruz) has invited his family to his home in San Diego to celebrate his last birthday. His Mother passed away a few days before his birthday, so the family has her funeral one day and his birthday party the next. Two very different fa
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 epic family saga stars to The House of Broken Angels! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

I have found a new author to love. Luis Alberto Urrea is a storyteller, and that is the highest compliment I can give any author.

Big Angel de la Cruz is the patriarch of his family, and he is dying. The book opens with him having to say goodbye to his mother at her funeral while also knowing he is living his last days.

Big Angel recounts the story of his family and how they came to live in the United States, a tale filled with se
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexico
Marlin Brando move over - there is a new Godfather in town, the Mexican, Big Angel. Which is an ironic name as he is crippled with cancer and no longer the strong, mammoth man he was.

This is the dying of a patriarch, who is getting ready to celebrate his last birthday. The very same weekend turns into a funeral as his 100 year old mother passes away. The party, however, must go on and the entire family mourns and celebrates the end of an era. History is relived and wow, this family is as tight a
Diane S ☔
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
A funeral, followed the next day by what is to be the last birthday party of the family's patriarch, Big Angel. Big Ange land little Angel, brothers from the same father but different mothers, Little Angels mother is white. A big, extended clan, this family, was difficult to keep track of who was who and who went with whom, but it didn't matter, the message is what counted. What it means to be American, to try to adapt to a new culture.

Over the course of one day, this large family comes together
”Big Angel was late to his own mother’s funeral.

“He tossed in his bed, the sheets catching his feet in a tangle. Sweat ticked his sides as he realized what was happening. The sun was up – it was bright through his eyelids. The burning pink world. Everybody else would be there before him. No. Not this. Not today. He struggled to rise.”

”Every morning since his diagnosis, he had the same thoughts. They were his alarm clock.
How could a man out of time repair all that was broken? And on this
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Miguel Angel de La Cruz (Big Angel) relishes what time he has left as the partriarch of a large family now concentrated on the California side of the border. The main story takes place during a particularly dramatic window starting with his mother’s funeral, followed the next day by what he knew would be his last birthday. Cancer would see to that. The family gathered for both events. There were countless POV characters, and plenty of back-stories to fill in. One character, a half-brother their ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-clubs

This book is lushly written, a detailed description of life in America for a family of Mexican immigrants.

The family is coming together for dual events, the funeral of Mama America and the birthday party of Big Angel, her son, who is dying of cancer. There’s a large cast of characters that took me awhile to get straight in my head. Just like Little Angel with his notepad, I needed notes to remember how they were related.

It’s a very slow moving book. Don’t expect a lot to happen. It’s much more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
Luis Urrea has joined the ranks of great American writers with his new novel, The House of Broken Angels. (Think John Steinbeck here--a worthy comparison).

Miguel Angel De La Cruz, known as Big Angel, the patriarch of the family, is dying of cancer and wants to celebrate his last birthday with his extensive family, a blowout party...but first they must bury Grandma America who has so obligingly died first.

Urrea writes about the Mexican-American experience with both humor and gravitas but he nai
lark benobi
In 2018 I began to re-read novels with frequency and zeal. I'm not talking about re-reading Shakespeare plays and Jane Austen novels and new translations of The Iliad and all the other stuff we all agree is worth re-reading, if and when we have the time. I'm talking about turning around and re-reading a newly published book within months or weeks or days of my first reading, a practice that I've come to embrace and to even look forward to, even though (like all the other avid readers here) I hav ...more
Nadia - on a break
The House of Broken Angels is a poignant novel featuring a Mexican immigrant family living in California. The beloved patriarch of the clan, Big Angel, is dying from cancer and calls on his entire extended family to gather to celebrate his last birthday. Spoiling the party plan is the fact that Big Angel's mother, Grandma America, dies a few days before the event and her funeral takes place the day before the birthday party. The book is a collection of family memories of different kinds, some ar ...more
"All believed Big Angel's smile because they needed to. Because they had always believed him. Because he was the law."

There are many, many tributaries over many, many years that flow over rutted landscapes and drought-filled pockets. They spread wide and far and in a multitude of unplanned directions seeking distance, and at the same time, longing for familiarity. They ebb and flow from a certain source and a certain essence. And that particular is Big Angel.

Big Angel is bent over in his chair w
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s ridiculous how much I liked Luis Alberto Urrea’s new novel House of Broken Angels. This book made me laugh so forcefully that I alarmed the people in the DMV sitting next to me. No doubt they feared the inevitable final collapse of my sanity was at hand. It made me weep so vigorously that the Stop and Shop cashier forgot to scan my double coupons, and the bagger (in such a rush to hand me her hankie) bagged my loaf of ciabatta beneath the cantaloupe. There were moments that enraged my sensi ...more
The dying patriarch of an extended Mexican-American family has one last birthday party on the day after his mother's funeral. The immigrant experience, happy memories, dark secrets, sibling rivalries and old grievances are explored. The writing was colorful and there was humor, poignancy and a realistic representation of a family. However, I would have preferred a more linear plot and I found that extended family confusing. I could have used a family tree because there were too many names and ni ...more
I admired more than enjoyed this story, its literary merits far outweighing my reading pleasure. Starting with a funeral and continuing with a birthday celebration that turns into a living wake, the effort to follow the constantly shifting viewpoints, names and nicknames of this big, raucous family required an attention that took away from the emotion I’d hoped to find in its pages.

This is a very personal story for Urrea given that it was inspired by the death of his eldest brother and that love
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, this one took me a while to get into. The de La Cruz family is big, so there are lots of characters to keep track of through multiple generations. On top of that, the storyline shifts from past to present, to further in the past, and back again. I was working so hard to keep track of who everyone was, I didn’t have much headspace left for what Urrea was doing on a deeper level.

Something happened though in the last third of the book that brought it all together for me. Big Angel
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had a couple of minor quibbles reading this but overall I thought it was a great story well told. I wouldn't mind if it won the TOB2019. I need to re-evaluate my brackets.
The House of Broken Angels is a beautiful and heartwarming tale of three generations of a Mexican and Mexican-American family taking place between La Paz, Tijuana and San Diego with the Mexican-American border in the mix. Patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately known as "Big Angel" is dying, and has summoned all of his family to celebrate his seventieth and last birthday. However his mother, Mama America, has just died resulting in her funeral the preceding day. As everyone gathers in ...more
Well, of course, I loved this book, but then my beautiful daughter-in-law is hispanic, born in Tijuana, and replanted here in North Carolina, when my son returned to his home state in 2008. I visited their ‘garage kingdom’ in 07' when they were living in her parent's attached garage in San Diego. So many things that Luis Alberto Urrea writes about in ‘The House of Broken Angels,’ I saw while I was there. The border crossing, the border patrol, the food, the generosity of Mexicans, the music, and ...more
Sorry to be a party-pooper, but to say I like this book or even that it is OK would be a downright lie! I have disliked it from start to finish.

The language, the sprawling number of characters and the drippy ending all displeased me immensely. Problems are resolved and tied up neatly with a bow. That forgiveness and redemption is plastered on at the end is not to my taste.

The setting of the story is San Diego. We are at the funeral of Big Angel’s mother and, on the following day, the celebratio
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a random pick for me after seeing the author would be attending the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. I am so glad I took a chance on this one. This seemed authentic, genuine, and very honest. I look forward to seeing the author discuss this in one of the literary panels. Pick this one up, so worth the time. Great title, too! I am still laughing over the drunk, escape artist bird!

Update:10/13 rights sold to Hollywood. Author is genuine, interesting and honest. Book is based
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Oh, my--this book! I was overwhelmed by this boisterous, complicated, colorful family gathered for the funeral of their matriarch and the last birthday of her son Big Angel, who is dying of cancer.

As I read, this family took residence in my heart. They were not so unlike my own family. I remembered the large family gatherings of my childhood; we have our 'colorful' characters, too. My cousins and I are are too quickly becoming the oldest generation--the next to die.

Through the story of one parti
kglibrarian  (Karin Greenberg)
A touching novel that follows the patriarch of a complex Mexican-American family as he faces his final days of life. Infused with Spanish phrases, cultural dishes, and vivid Mexican landscapes, Urrea highlights the importance of heritage and family loyalty, while also depicting the realistic hardships that immigration and class status present. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and moving.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished over spring break. A big, bodacious Mexican-American family, mainly chronicled through the eyes of a dying patriarch. Almost made-for-TV, the personalities in this crew, with numerous flashbacks to provide well-spaced exposition. Saved from mill comma run-of-the by some sterling writing in parts. That is, some poetic prose. A worthy read, all in all.
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many authors can make you laugh.
Many authors can make you cry.
Many authors can make you laugh AND cry at the same time.
And then there’s Luis Alberto Urrea.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
With so many compelling ideas and such a vast array of quirky characters, it's a shame this novel isn't better balanced. There are scattered scenes that work quite well, but these are swamped by the carnivalesque material which surrounds them. Surely a gifted author can write about chaos, disorder, and hidden agendas without presenting a novel that is itself chaotic, disordered, and seems to have a few hidden agendas of its own? It felt like I was seated beside strangers as they blithely made th ...more
Perhaps it is a case of 'it is not the book it is me', I thought a story about a dying old man (Big Angel) planning out the last of his days and how his extended family (most noticeable the man's half brother Little Angel) react to it would be quite interesting. Well, for the first 100 pages the colorful characters and the background of the Mexican-American mixed cultures do keep me interested, but then 50 pages later the plot still it isn't moving forward, so I gave up.
Aga Durka
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 shining *****.

To be honest, I did not love this book from the beginning. I almost gave up on it...I could not connect with any of the characters. I was also confused at times...I wasn't sure what I just read, and I had to re-read paragraphs (even though the book was written in a very simple language with a lot of dialogues). Maybe because there was so many characters introduced from the start, and I have a hard time with books that have tooooo many people in it...I get
mindful.librarian ☀️
(AUDIOBOOK) Oh my goodness. I laughed, I gasped in shock, I cried, and I thought long and hard about what it means to die with a life well-lived. The narration for this was FABULOUS - it was read by the author and it was perfection. This is a story of immigration, but it's ultimately a story of family, marriage and the bonds that hold us together. I won't forget this one for a long, long time.
Katie Long
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this instead of loving it as I hoped I would. The story is about a large Mexican-American family who is losing their patriarch, sooner than most of them realize. The family is large, sprawling, and cacophonous as is the narrative structure where they exist. I suppose that choice did serve the characters and the feel of the novel well, but it left me as a reader always feeling on the outside. Despite this, there are moments of true warmth, love, and laughter that make it well worth readin ...more
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Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more

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10 likes · 7 comments
“That is the prize: to realize, at the end, that every minute was worth fighting for with every ounce of blood and fire.” 6 likes
“Big Angel could not reconcile himself to this dirty deal they had all been dealt. Death. What a ridiculous practical joke. Every old person gets the punch line that the kids are too blind to see. All the striving, lusting, dreaming, suffering, working, hoping, yearning, mourning, suddenly revealed itself to be an accelerating countdown to nightfall.
....This is the prize: to realize, at the end, that every minute was worth fighting for with every ounce of blood and fire.”
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