Trish's Reviews > The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
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bookshelves: america, audio, fiction, latin-america, immigration

This story recounts the immigrant experience of a vast array of Latinos on the eastern central coast of America, in Delaware. It moves in for close-ups of two families in particular, one Panamanian and one Mexican. Both families are legal immigrants, one coming to the United States for medical care, the other for opportunity.

Christina Henriquez manages to make the experiences of these two families ring true and universal. Especially interesting was the voice of Mayor Toro, teenager and younger brother to a high school soccer star. He had a lot to live up to, and his vulnerability was everywhere apparent. His interest in a beautiful but brain-damaged young woman, Maribel, in a nearby apartment led to unforeseen and tragic consequences. The chain of events had a kind of logic to them that began in ignorance and fear, and were sustained by the well-known uncommunicativeness of teenagers.

Henriquez’ use of first-person narration, changing the ‘voice’ from one chapter to another, gave the piece immediacy and truthfulness. Often we can hear an individual thinking and speaking; the overlapping points of view give the story tension and the listener can see a crisis foreshadowed long before the conclusion is revealed. The final chapter is given finally to the father of Mexican family who reveals his pleasure in the struggle they have undergone, despite its many disappointments.

I listened to the audio of this book, performed by an array of narrators and produced by Random House Audio. I was offered this title by Random House in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

June 25, 2014 –
page 75
100% "Book of interlinked stories about families who have immigrated to the U.S. from the diaspora of Latin America. Recollects Brick Lane by Monica Ali."
Started Reading
July 1, 2014 – Finished Reading
July 3, 2014 – Shelved
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: america
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: audio
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: fiction
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: latin-america
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: immigration

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