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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  653 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Fresh, accomplished, and fearless, Vida marks the debut of Patricia Engel, a young author of immense talent and promise. Vida follows a single narrator, Sabina, as she navigates her shifting identity as a daughter of the Colombian diaspora and struggles to find her place within and beyond the net of her strong, protective, but embattled family.

In “Lucho,” Sabina’s family—a
Paperback, 182 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2010)
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May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow.... $1.99 Kindle special download today!

I own this little square paperback. It's under two hundred pages and there are 9 short stories. I read this last summer - after meeting the author ....( I was out of town when I read it - and forgot to write a review).

This is Patricia Engel's debut book. She also wrote the novel "The Veins of The Ocean"..... which I also enjoyed.

In "Vida", the stories center around Sabina, the daughter of Colombian immigrants.
The stories deal with ethnic identity,
Madeline Knight-Dixon
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book in one day, not because I had to for class, but because I couldn’t stop reading it. There is something so powerful about this girl. She’s snarky, she’s depressed, she’s desperate, she’s faithful, she’s impressionable. She’s every girl that’s ever lived. She makes terrible choices and deals with them the way most people do- she makes the same choice again.

Someone in my class said it was “depressing”. I call it human. I call it the voice of a generation that’s lost and at the
Lucas Sierra
Lo familiar y lo extraño

Cuando la temática de un libro está atravesada por cierta relevancia contextual, ya sea el testimonio de la segunda gran guerra o la problemática de la identidad migrante en norteamérica, existe el riesgo de contaminar la lectura con el exotismo, con el afán de juzgar la calidad literaria en aras de la denuncia o la importancia política del relato.

Así, ese spanglish del que se envanecen ciertas obras contemporáneas o la deliberada calificación de algunos libros como el es
Nov 28, 2010 added it
I was pretty hopeful when i picked this up, but the reviews are overly generous. i find little that can be called edgy in this collection/narrative. many bad things happen to people surrounding sabina, but not to her diretly. and there's no recognition of this, and so these events feel like a construct. engel skims the surface here, which can be slightly interesting but ultimately leaves me disappointed. to talk about one's sexual wanderings, openly admit disgust and lack of empathy for her sick ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was pretty good. I will definitely recommend to my homies. The author has a very simple writing style but it's effective. This kind of read like YA fiction to me sometimes, but it's cool.

It's short, so bonus points for that. I kind of wish I had picked this for my ladies' book club, because we would have had a lot of fun discussing it... maybe I will pick one of her other novels?

I think it's funny how sometimes I like to read books that put me into an entirely different world, but it's als
Sandra Hutchison
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I got out of the library because it sounded intriguing and then I sort of dipped into it in the middle because I was running out of time to read it and kind of hoped it wouldn't really catch me. But it did. It caught me and I ended up reading the whole thing. It's a collection of short stories that I guess are connected, but each stands alone and in fact I read them out of order and it didn't affect my enjoyment. There's a lovely balance of humor and pathos. It also read as autobi ...more
Katharine McDowell
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heart-breakingly beautiful, this debut novel by Patricia Engel avoids all the cliches while exploring the struggles and crises of the coming-of-age experience of a first-gen Colombian-American woman.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
a page turner. simple and to the point.. weirdly enough, I relate! maybe because I've lived in America for a few years and I feel it's my home.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!!! Big thanks to the woman working in Malaprops - another wonderful book store - in Asheville NC who had just finished it and gave it to us as we were checking out, saying we had to read it. Later I kept seeing it in different best books of the year lists yet still didn't get around to reading it despite its relatively short length.

Now having finished it, all I can say is WOW, why did I wait so long! It's definitely one of the best I've read or will read this year! It reminds m
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
An amazingly powerful book, easy to read because of Engel's terrific, gripping prose. While I didn't want it to end, the brevity is spot-on. This isn't so much a novel as a series of short stories about the same character. I can see the comparisons to Diaz, and his presence in her writing is unmistakable, but to call her a copycat or a rip-off is narrow-sighted and dismissive. Sabina is no Yunior. Engel's writing, while fresh and snappy like Diaz's and Latin@-American focused, sort of stops with ...more
Meagan Kashty
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An entertaining book based around coming of age and cultural identity. While technically a series of short stories, the book focuses on one girl, Sabina, and the number of people who shape her as she grows up. The fact that these stories are not told chronologically, and that the style of writing changes through each chapter, only works to add more charm to the book and gives depth to the character of the girl.
This year is the first time I've really given short stories a chance. While this isn't my favorite collection, the author, Patricia Engel, writes beautifully. Sabina, who is the protagonist for all of the stories, is a real girl. She doesn't bulls**t, which is probably what I liked most about her. As someone else commented these stories are all example of how things work out in this life. Overall a great purchase and read.

Favorites from the book:

Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
My biggest complaint about this book: too quick of a read!

Otherwise, I truly enjoyed reading the interrelated short stories about our heroine, written fluidly and seamlessly. I loved the layout that had the character all over the map (literally and figuratively), and I was certainly affected reading the powerful stories that snagged my emotional commitment to them right from the start.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This quick read is a series of vignettes about a young girl/woman of Colombian descent, some of the people and experiences that help shape her and her struggle to find her identity and voice when caught between worlds. I like the writing, direct yet lyrical. While I read it quickly, I suspect a more careful or thoughtful reader could tease much more out of this book than I did.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I can't remember the last time I read such an honest, unpretentious coming of age story. I really identified with the narrator and found so much of this book relatable to my immigrant upbringing. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Engel's work.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
The reoccurring character in Vida, Sabina, is a Colombian-American girl whose coming-of-age story is somewhat strung together in nine chapters that revolve around her relationships with men and relationship to her parents. The epigraph is a line from Grenier's Islands: "In each life, particularly at its dawn, there exists an instant which determines everything." I think these words work well for the novel because so much of what we know about Sabina is in consequence of her relationships to othe ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought Vida was a well put-together collection of stories centering around the narrator Sabina. I thought that Sabina was a real and fleshed out character that truly speaks to people's humanity. I really enjoyed Desaliento and Vida. Those two stories really spoke to me in regards to how people interact - when Sabina thinks to herself that "I'm not that charitable. Nothing in me said that I should help Vida. Give her money from my savings so she could buy a plane back ticket home. ...,someone ...more
Dana Sweeney
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Picked up this collection of short stories because Junot Díaz wrote the following review:

"Gloriously gifted and alarmingly intelligent, Patricia Engel writes with an almost fable-like intensity, whether she is describing suburban New Jersey or urban Colombia or some other lost place . . . her ability to pierce the hearts of her crazy-ass characters, to fracture a moment into its elementary particles of yearning, cruelty, love, and confusion will leave you breathless. Here, friends, is the debut
Thurston Hunger
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Smart girl with bad girl tendencies hanging out with bad boys making dumb boy mistakes, well it works for me. She even offers a platonic peace offering for those of us who don't really belong in her circle, spending a day and a chapter with Dia.

For now, I don't even want to know how much of this is plucked from the kitchen cabinet of memoir. She serves up an enjoyable set of quick reads that feel baked fresh, yet have enough death as leavening to sort of sit above your stomach, somewhere closer
Alexia Safieh
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: launch-pad

Sabina, de descendencia colombiana, nos narra su vida a través de varias historias cortas que componen la novela. Sus comportamientos durante el libro me hicieron sentir incómoda, especialmente cuando ella sintió que tenía la libertad de tomar sus propias decisiones, pero al mismo tiempo era lo que me cautivaba para seguir leyendo. Me hizo sentir muchos sentimientos a la vez debido a la forma en que la protagonista narraba sus historias.

“Vida” es un libro espectacular. No sólo es entretenido y e
Christine Vranas
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book that really is a series of short stories that revolve around one character, Sabina. Through her eyes we see the life of a first generation Colombian. This book seems to frequently revolve around loss. Her writing is so much about the beautiful imperfect characters that float in and out of this young woman's life that the reader falls for every one of them. Her sensitivity is manifest in her writing.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-deal
Nice collection of stories. I liked the ones where Sabina was younger more than the others but they were all enjoyable. One thing I felt was missing is an overall arc, especially since the stories were not in chronological order. If there was a thread running throughout it was too subtle for me to pick up on. The final story was heavier on theme/bigger issues and I found it the most rewarding.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 A complex young woman, her friends, lovers, Colombian immigrant family, and the shadow of lurking tragedy, sometimes distant, sometimes intimate. I was reminded throughout of Junot Díaz, and in the acknowledgements she thanked him.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short stories about love and relationships with men mostly. So close in tone as to almost seem like a continuing story. Well done and interesting.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I liked that this was a composition of short stories surrounding Sabina. It was a very easy read for sure (perhaps YA?). Interesting perspective of Latino, American, and female culture.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quick read, very lit-y.
Livin' la  Vida Latina
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reviewed by: Sandra

Livin la vida Latina

Review: Patricia Engel’s debut book was wonderful. Her main character, Sabina, was smart, witty, and real; she often referred to herself as a “late bloomer.”

These are stories of a girl’s coming-of-age from childhood to adulthood (although not necessarily in that order) that trek through the hurdles revolving her family, friends, neighbors, and her ethnic identity.

Living in a community shunned by “blancos” makes life a little lonely for Sabina in “Lucho.”
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Since my words are not nearly as eloquent as these, I'll quote from a review on the back of the book, "Her ability to pierce the hearts of her crazy-ass characters, to fracture a moment into its elementary particles of yearning, cruelty, love and confusion will leave you breathless."


I have only read a few books that would be characterized as not short stories, but rather, vignettes-snapshots into very specific moments in the character's life. And I love the genre. Love it. Not all life st
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
At a friend's recommendation I got a copy of Vida from my local library. I finished half of these in a 45 minute sitting and the rest in brief stints over the next 2 days. I was quite impressed with her style and the approach of having a novel of short stories featuring the same character at different points in her young life. It seemed to go in chronological order and then it didn't. The character seemed to sort of have it together and then she didn't. (But then she did.) (But then she didn't.) ...more
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nicole by: Flavorwire
Really great book on the topic of the Colombian immigrant experience. You can't help but wonder what would happen if you made a different choice when you came to that fork in the road. This book thinks about that "shadow" life--those "what-would-have-beens" if you'd made other choices.

There are so many "what ifs?" in this book. What if they'd stayed in Colombia? What if she had snuck out with Lucho that night? What if she hadn't trusted her hairstylist to get her on the pageant circuit? What if
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Patricia Engel is the author of Vida, which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, winner of Colombia’s national prize in letters, the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, which won the International Latino Book Award; and, most recently, ...more
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“Asks me what I do for a living, and I think, I’m only twenty-two. I don’t do anything for a living except smoke cigarettes and throw my heart around.” 1 likes
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