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One Year of Ugly

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  345 reviews
After fleeing crumbling, volatile Venezuela, Yola Palacio wants nothing more than to settle into a peaceful new life in Trinidad with her family. And who cares if they’re there illegally—aren’t most of the people on the island? But life for the Palacios is far from quiet—and when Yola’s Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find their lives turned upside down. For Celia h ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 5th 2020 by The Borough Press
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jordana no- this isn't an #ownvoices book to my knowlege. Caroline MacKenzie is a white author from Trinidad and if not Venezuelan. …moreno- this isn't an #ownvoices book to my knowlege. Caroline MacKenzie is a white author from Trinidad and if not Venezuelan. (less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Paromjit
Caroline Mackenzie's offbeat debut novel certainly makes one heck of an impression and is bone-achingly funny about the most serious of issues, the horrors that underpin the global refugee crisis. Some might question whether it is appropriate to treat the desperate and despairing plights of so many in the world with such humour but Mackenzie succeeds in throwing much needed attention on and highlight a topic many would prefer to avert their eyes from. The Palacious family have left the political ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book triggered different feelings and thoughts inside me at the same time: I laughed, I resented, I repulsed, I got entertained and I got sad.
There are so many sensitive issues in this book including illegal immigrants’ lives, dysfunctional family issues, alcoholism, captivation, living under a dangerous tyrant’s rules for a year! Interestingly this is thought-provokingly intense book but the author’s absurd and sarcastic way of looking at the matters and reflecting them by vivid, inter
...more
Ms. Woc Reader
Jun 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trinidad-tobago
One Year of Ugly tries to use lewd comedy to tell a story but I'm not exactly sure what type of story it's trying to tell. It's not a story of illegal immigrants that humanizes then and shows you there struggle or causes you to have empathy for them. At times I found myself wondering if this was a an argument to send them back. Because all the Venezuelans we encounter seem to partake in illegal activity and they all seem to have the same solid jobs people accuse them of stealing. At times I felt ...more
BookOfCinz
Updated August 31, 2020
I ready this book and felt that it would be a great BookOfCinz Book Club pick and I was right! Re-reading this book the second time around, I did enjoy it a lot more.


One Year of Ugly is Caroline’s Mackenzie’s debut novel, due to be released on July 14, 2020.

In One Year of Ugly we meet the Palacio family, who are originally from Venezuela but fled the country to start a new life in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The entire Palacio family settles some
...more
Anna Goldberg
Jun 16, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book really did not do it for me. I could not get past the ableism, transphobia, and hyper sexualization of Latinx women. I should probably have guessed based off the Marina Semple comparison that I wouldn’t like this, but I really couldn’t recommend this one.
Gail (The Knight Reader)
I am not the most sensitive reader, so a lot of subtleties go right over my head. With that said, if I notice sensitivity issues in a book, then they are blatant.

I put it to you this way: If an author from another country wrote about your homeland and countrymen in a way that was not flattering, but repeatedly disrespectful with the cover of “dark humor” protecting the writing, how would you feel? I am really curious to know how a Venezuelan would feel reading this story. One can do research for
...more
Louise Wilson
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a family's illegal migration from Venezuela to Trinidad. The Palacios family lived a moderate life within their means. But then they get a visit from the local crime lord who is called Ugly. It seems that their recently deceased aunt Celia owed money to Ugly. The family has to work to clear the six hundred thousand Trinidadian dollars by which ever way Ugly required them to. Ugly left them with no doubt that that if they didn't comply, violence would ensue.

There is some com
...more
Holly
Aug 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
one ugly read

I was promised the sharpest, most hilarious rom com of the year with plenty of 4/5 star reviews behind it. Instead I got pages and pages of outright misogyny (never addressed), transphobic comments, disgusting fatphobia and the uncomfortable realisation that a white woman had written this story about being a Venezuelan immigrant with very little sensitivity. There were tiny glimmers of goodness, of potential but all of it was ruined by the place of ignorance the book seemed to come
...more
Marie (UK)
Dec 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
I received a copy of this book via net galley in exchange for an Honest review.

i found it a very difficult book to get into, I restarted it at least 3 times and still had no idea what I was reading. The author says she was writing with humour , I can only say that our idea of humour must be very different as there was nothing remotely funny about this book. Illegal immigrants under appalling duress due to financial difficulty. Made to do things they would never contemplated. Attacked with iron b
...more
Katie.dorny
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
In equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this family saga of one families’ experience of immigration to Trinidad from Venezuela ticks all the right boxes.

After fleeing Venezuela; Yola and her family are living under the radar in Trinidad after fleeing with the help of her Aunt Celia. Upon Celia’s death, shit really hits the fan when they discover their permits are false and the debt Celia left behind to the local thug Ugly.

What follows is a family saga with everything baked into it - drama,
...more
Breanne Mc Ivor
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-caribbean
I started this book at around 11:00 pm with the intention of just dipping in before bed; but after that opening sequence, I was hooked.

One Year of Ugly follows the Palacios family – Venezuelans living illegally in Trinidad – who are thrust into a crime ring thanks to now deceased Aunt Celia’s shady underworld dealings.

I fell hard for the narrator, Yola Palacios, because she does not give a damn. Bitingly sarcastic, foul-mouthed and socially perceptive, she describes Trinidad from an outsider’s
...more
Louise Wilson
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about a family's illegal migration from Venezuela to Trinidad. Th3 Palacios family lived a moderate life within their means. But then they got a visit from the local crime lord who is called Ugly. It seems that their recently deceased aunt Celia owed money to Ugly. The family has to work to clear the six hundred thousand Trinidadian dollars u which ever way Ugly required them to. Ugly left them with no doubt that If they didn't comply, violence would ensue.

There is some complex s
...more
Natalie
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Huge disappointment.

I really struggled with this one and put it down so many times I almost  abandoned it. Initially, I was excited to read a book that I thought would provide some useful insight in the Venezuelan immigrant experience here in Trinidad, which is a very current issue right now. 


Firstly, the author chose to use a weird and crude brand of humour to tell the story which I did not find humourous and left me feeling disconnected from chapter one through most of the book. It came across
...more
Preslava
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm so so excited to recommend this book to everybody! It has everything - fun, sadness, grief, forbidden romance, drama, secrets, even suspense and a big twist... You simply cannot not fall in love with the Palacios - they are so human and every one of them is so well developed, they feel like your own family and... especially Aunt Celia!!! I loved her so much! Finally, One Year Of Ugly did what American Dirt tried to but failed - put light on the real life of illegal immigrants and the difficu ...more
ShakilaMarie_Reads
This was quite an interesting book. There was serious and funny aspects of the book which turned out to be just seriously funny. The author turned a heavy subject into a fun witty read. The book centered around Yola and her family trying to settle a debt her dead aunt Celia racked up. Ugly, the “loan shark” if you will, gave the family an ultimatum to settle Celia’s debt. Of course, they couldn’t turn it down or else what would be the alternative.

As you can imagine, this made for an interesting
...more
Patricia Grannum
As a Trinidadian currently living on the island, I really wanted to love "One Year Of Ugly" because of the accolades it has received. But I simply can't. While it is entertaining at times, when you crack the surface, you realize how much it doesn't really reflect the immigrant experience with any kind of depth.

For example, no one in the Palacio family seems to care about the family they left behind. Sending money or supplies back home to relatives is not a concern at all. At one point, Ugly men
...more
Laura
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Yola Palacio and her family are Venezulean living in Trinidad with an illegal status. They have no protection and no one to turn to when spunky recently deceased Aunt Celia's debt gets called in and flashy Ugly comes to call in his favor. We get Aunt Celia through her journal pages which are very graphic lol. What happens to those journals and diaries when you die? It is more of a descriptive How to Memoir on how to be a bad bitch.
Yola is an aspiring writer that has had articles published and U
...more
Fayola Fraser
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The author frames a refugee story of loss, displacement and suffering in a comedic lens in what is an attempt to make a story more accessible to the everyday reader. One Year of Ugly is really well written and the unexpected twists and turns (including whirlwind romance) kept me hooked for the entirety of the novel.

There is something to be said, however, about retelling a refugee story that is surely interspersed with so much more pain and suffering than the author could ever grasp and could nev
...more
Smitha Murthy
An offbeat pick that surprised me. I picked up ‘One Year Of Ugly’ because I miss traveling, and thought of reading books set in countries I haven’t been to as some sort of compensation.

Mackenzie uses humor to bring to the fore a serious issue - the plight of immigrants and refugees in Trinidad, especially Venezuelans escaping from the collapsed economy and rampant chaos in their country. I was initially irritated by the narrator, Yola’s, fawning over Roman, the very obvious “good” guy in a loca
...more
Eskay
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
so i'm about 50 of so pages into this book, enjoying the writing, the story is entertaining when i think 'hmm, caroline mackenzie doesn't really sound like a venezuelan name'. so i look her up. she's trinidadian. and she appears to be white. certainly i can't see any mention of venezuelan heritage anywhere. and then i kind of go off this book. yeah, it's still funny, and yola's voice is compelling, but these characters are stereotypes, and they're being written by someone who is not part of that ...more
Kelly
DNF @ 30%

I really wanted to give this a fair shot and to love it as it's my first NetGalley book - thank you to the publishers for the opportunity to read it. However, I'm just not enjoying it. At 30% of the way through, nothing of significance has happened to Yola. There is no relationship to follow here, not with her family (there are too many of them) or with her love interest (I think they spend a total of 5 minutes in each other's presence up until this point). I think it's supposed to be w
...more
Kay
This book was an interesting read for me as a native Trinidadian. It is fiction but gives so much insight into Venezuelan immigration to Trinidad.

The book follows Yola, a Venezuelan illegal immigrant to Trinidad. Her family is forced to house other refugees to repay a debt owed to a local criminal nicknamed Ugly by a deceased relative.

My critique: the exaggerated over use (and in a few cases, incorrect use) of trini slang among the local characters was sometimes annoying. There were also some (i
...more
Megan Tristao
Woo-ee! At the risk of sounding like a prude, this book was VULGAR. (But that's not necessarily a bad thing.) The story was exciting and made me laugh, though I did cringe at many parts that seemed (purposefully?) insensitive. I was surprised by how effective the comedy was in what was often a very dark story. I will be seeking out reviews from Venezuelan readers, as the book centers on a Venezuelan family in Trinidad but is written by a white Trinidadian author.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publi
...more
Iryna *Book and Sword*
A fun and sassy read. A lot of laugh-out-loud moments and a few very nice twists, with overall message that holds a lot of depth. I also really enjoyed the writing - I flew through the book, it's quite addictive and keeps you turning pages. Besides a few intolerable cliches - "I released a breath I didn't know I was holding" and using a certain dog breed in derogatory terms, I enjoyed it very much.

Recommend it as a quick and very entertaining summer read.
...more
Olga Miret
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to the Borough Press (Harper Collins UK) and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.
This is a debut novel, and what a debut! Although I hadn’t heard of the author before, I was thrilled when I realised that we had a few things in common (I’ve also worked as a translator, and we’re both alumnae of Sussex University. Go Sussex!), and I am sure this will not be the last novel I read by Mackenzie.
This novel touches on many things, and although it do
...more
Crystal
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I could not connect to this story for the life of me! I wanted to and I pushed through, but these characters weren’t ones that I fell for. I couldn’t take their situation seriously at all! How terrifying to be blackmailed by someone as scary as Ugly... but, there didn’t seem to be much fear in the storyline. This was such an odd rom-com for me.

I did enjoy learning more about the culture of this family and understanding their struggles living as refugees. One of my favorite parts of this book was
...more
Caroline Kerdouci
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
One year of ugly is a wickedly hilarious tale of a year in the life of the Palacios family. Full of dark humour with brilliant one liners,the author tackles a serious issue, that of illegal immigrants trying to live life under the radar of the authorities . Somehow despite the wit I didn’t feel the author was trivialising the subject and to bring the plight of this group of people to the attention of a wider audience in such an entertaining way should be applauded.
The Palacios family are illegal
...more
Nic
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I utterly adored this book. There lies at the heart of it a serious tale of exploitation and refugees but it is told as a comedic and incredible tale in the year of the Palacio clan, mainly focusing on daughter Yola but weaving in a lovable and diverse wider family. It’s rare that I laugh out loud at a book but did frequently at this gem. A little reminiscent of the superb My Sister The Serial Killer in terms of dark humour, I would highly recommend it.

With thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collin
...more
Marlise Andrews
Nov 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sensationalist pulp fiction which presents a the immigrant situation in Trinidad from a position of privilege. Albeit superficially entertaining, it glorifies the cloistered existence of the white minority in Trinidad. who happily embrace white-looking Venezuelans into their bubble whilst those of African, Indian and Mixed descent are ignored and excluded.

The protagonist family in the novel are unfortunately, not representative of 95% of those who arrive and struggle to survive in Trinidad and t
...more
Becky (Head In The Pages)
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was funny and witty and also eye opening, and made me more aware of a situation I hadn’t been before. I loved the characters and the scene setting and I’d definitely read more of Caroline’s work!
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Caroline Mackenzie is a Trinidadian writer whose short fiction has appeared in publications around the world. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and she won first prize for fiction in the 2018 Small Axe Literary Competition. Her debut novel ONE YEAR OF UGLY is currently available in hardback as well as audio book and e-book formats.

Caroline currently lives in Trini
...more

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