Lovers of Multicultural Literature discussion

9 views
What part of the story did you like the most?

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
For me it's the very beginning when Arturo, Alma and Maribel are looking for a place to buy food. The disbelief and misery of not finding a place to buy fresh food and the the high cost of something as simple as salsa which is nothing like what they are used to. The feeling of isolation and not being able to communicate with the people around you.


message 2: by Beverly (new)

Beverly My favorite part about this book is how the author connected the readers to the characters.


message 3: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Here is my overall thoughts about the book:

Every now and then I read a book that just touches my heart. The Book of Unknown Americans is such a book. From the first pages I was captivated by the sustained voices of the characters written with such grace and dignity as I felt their humanity, hopefulness, and despair to do what they had to do ensure a better life for their children and often, times themselves. I so enjoyed how the author connects the reader to the characters.
The story opens with Arturo and Alma Rivera arriving in Newark, Delaware with their daughter, Maribel. The Riveras have sold their construction business, left their comfortable life in Mexico so that Maribel can get the education and treatment to hopefully recover as best as she can from the brain damage caused by an unfortunate accident. That first night in a bare-bones apartment that has been better days, Alma listens to her husband and daughter sleeping and thinks:
“The surge of possibility. The tug of doubt. Had we done the right thing coming here? Of course, I know the answer. We had done what we had to do.”
As we follow the Riveras journey, meeting the Toros and other Central and Latin American immigrants we learn of their plights realizing these are slices of life that happen universally. But because of who these immigrants are often times they are defined by preconceived notions not as individuals.
“I felt the way I often felt in this country-simultaneously conspicuous and invisible, like an oddity whom everyone noticed but chose to ignore.”
For me the interesting title is summed up by one of the characters.
“We’re the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not that bad, maybe event that we’re a lot like them.”
Henriquez’s masterful story is compassionate, courageous and creative. The compelling characters encapsulate the undulating sweet-and-sour spectrum of life and will stay with you after turning the last page. I recommend this book to readers who are looking for an entertaining yet thought-provoking read.


message 4: by Beverly (new)

Beverly I also liked how his character's story was a little different about coming to the US. I liked how the author was able to tell that without overwhelming the reader and mainly telling the story through the Riveras and Toros.


message 5: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
Oh my gosh, Beverly, thank you so much for such a wonderful statement/review. When I first saw this book on goodreads I was captivated by its cover. I wanted to read this story because it reflected my own experiences of people I know who are immigrants in this country. This story is certainly true to life. What you say at the end sums it up. Such an important piece of work of the immigrant experience.


message 6: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments I finished it the night before last. It's one of those books I think everyone should read. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and it's still circling around in my head. It's strange, though, even though I was drawn to it, in many ways I didn't enjoy it. It was so sad, and frustrating at times. But I'm so glad I read it, and I think it would be good for the rest of the U.S. to read it, too. Maybe we'd all be more compassionate-more American-if we could see things from the perspective of immigrants. Our feeling of entitlement keeps us from experiencing the hope of possibility that new-comers bring with them.


message 7: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
I agree R.A.


message 8: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments I have a good friend who was brought to the U.S. by her parents when she was a young teen. She has mentioned several times how hard it was, and how she felt frustrated that she was unable to continue her education because for whatever reason they were no longer legal. I want her to read the book and let me know what she thinks about it, but it may be a while before she can get to it.


message 9: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
Tell her to request it from the library. I know there might be a long wait because it's pretty popular. The wait was so long at my library. I ended up buying it at the university bookstore near my house only because they are selling my book and I want to support them.


message 10: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments I had to wait for a while, too, but the reason she may not get to it is that she's going through chemo and has a lot going on in her life. Still, I think she'll read it eventually. It's her kind of book. I'm glad I joined this group. I never would have read this book, otherwise.


message 11: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments R.A. wrote: "I had to wait for a while, too, but the reason she may not get to it is that she's going through chemo and has a lot going on in her life. Still, I think she'll read it eventually. It's her kind of..."

It turns out that she already read it. She liked it, too, and said that it was quite realistic.


message 12: by Beverly (new)

Beverly R.A. wrote: "R.A. wrote: "I had to wait for a while, too, but the reason she may not get to it is that she's going through chemo and has a lot going on in her life. Still, I think she'll read it eventually. It'..."

Thanks for the update.
I too thought that it matched up with experiences that friends and relatives have had.

I so liked that it looked at the multitude of reasons why those come to the US.


message 13: by Tracey (last edited Aug 09, 2014 10:23AM) (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
Yes, and it shatters the general concept that most people have that those from Latin America come here illegally.


message 14: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments I need to find stats on the % of Latinos who are in the U.S. illegally.


message 15: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments One article I found said 18%.


message 16: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
That's low compared to what most Americans think about the illegal population.


message 17: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments But more than I had thought. To me, what's sad is that so many feel driven to come/stay here illegally.


message 18: by Beverly (new)

Beverly R.A. wrote: "But more than I had thought. To me, what's sad is that so many feel driven to come/stay here illegally."

To those who oppose immigration I am not sure that the number matters to them - one is probably too many for them. And even if they hear that the number is low they will find another path to their argument.

The business of political parties is to win votes and appeal to emotions is a more catching way than facts. First thing I was taught in statistics class that the same piece of data can be used by someone to prove their point for an argument as well as someone who is on the opposite of the argument.

But this is certainly a complex issue with many layers and there is certainly no simple answer.


message 19: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments No, certainly not a simple answer. But I just can't imagine being upset with children for fleeing here to save their own lives. That's an extreme example, but I'm positive that very few people decide to up and illegally immigrate to a foreign country for no good reason.


message 20: by Beverly (new)

Beverly R.A. wrote: "No, certainly not a simple answer. But I just can't imagine being upset with children for fleeing here to save their own lives. That's an extreme example, but I'm positive that very few people deci..."

The children fleeing seems to brought even more to the public's attention regarding immigration issues.

I can only imagine the horrific conditions that forces a parent to "send" their children away.

But this is not the first (nor will it be the last time) we will hear of this type of situation. And it often seems like it is the political decision to "turn away" children (people).


message 21: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments Well, it's expensive, and people don't want to pay for it. I'm sure that's the biggest reason. But I wonder what would happen if the government just let people open their homes to them? I know I would take some just because I couldn't say no. Of course, then they would have to do all that paperwork, and background checks on the hosts, and the school systems would freak out...nothing is simple, anymore.


message 22: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
I believe the best way to curb the influx is for wealthy countries to reduce or eliminate the loans poor countries own to get them out of debt so that they are able to take care of the basic needs of their people and to assist with micro- loan programs.


message 23: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 18 comments It's a good idea. I wonder if the governments would take care of their own, or just be richer? Some of them are so corrupt...In many places the politicians are SO rich from taking what they want from others. I have a friend (now just on fb, but I used to live near her) from Ghana who has permanent issues with her digestive tract because she was near starvation for so much of her childhood. Most of the time there was food available, but her parents and everyone else were so heavily 'taxed' that they couldn't afford to buy it. And the rich literally had fleets of expensive cars and piles of food, much of it given to them by those who sought favor. And I'm not talking about people who struck it rich in oil, or something. These are people who got wealthy off the backs of others, one way or another.
I know it seems bad here (the U.S.) to some, but it's really not the same. Certainly we have corruption, but in Russia, for example, it's simply a given that if you get into trouble, you pay a bribe and move on. Often people are held for no particular reason, just because a couple militia are hoping for a little payoff. This actually happened to a friend of mine, so not hearsay. It's all a huge mess, and I don't think there's any one solution. As long as people from here and there are taking advantage of others for their own selfish gain, I see no way out. We can only do what we're called to do to make the world a better place, and encourage others to do the same.
Well, there's my opinionated sermon for the day. Now I need a nap :).


message 24: by Beverly (new)

Beverly R.A. wrote: "It's a good idea. I wonder if the governments would take care of their own, or just be richer? Some of them are so corrupt...In many places the politicians are SO rich from taking what they want fr..."

That is certainly a true statement - In the US we have our problems but there is no other place I want to live.


message 25: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Hook | 54 comments Mod
This is very true.


back to top