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The House of Broken Angels
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Archive: Other Books > The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea - 4 stars

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Joy D | 4595 comments The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea - 4 stars

Contemporary fiction about a Mexican American extended family set primarily in San Diego and Tijuana. The family patriarch, Big Angel de la Cruz, is dying of cancer. Facing death, he has requested a final birthday celebration, which takes place on the day after his mother’s funeral.

Themes include mortality, the passage of time, the transience of memory, the complexity of family relationships, reflections on a life nearing its end, and the interconnectedness of humanity. It is also a cultural statement about the current sensitivities in the U.S. toward those of Mexican descent, and these sentiments are built into the plot. This book contains elements of both tragedy and comedy, relayed in a series of vignettes and seamlessly woven into the storyline. It contains all the complexities one might expect from a family drama, such as secrets, grudges, personality clashes, insults, and abuses. Contains profanity and gang-related violence. I wish it had been a bit easier to keep track of the all the characters, their multiple nicknames, and family relationships.

One may think a novel about a dying man would be morose, but the protagonist never falls into self-pity. He reminisces about the dark days as well as the happy times. He keeps his sense of humor. He analyzes his life, takes responsibility for his mistakes, acknowledges his regrets, and apologizes where he can. In this manner, the book rises above sadness and offers hope. Filled with poignant scenes, raucous family gatherings, humorous vignettes, and dramatic confrontations, Urrea has created a memorable cast of characters focused on what brings humanity together rather than what keeps us apart.

Link to my review:

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6381 comments I had the chance to see Urrea when he was the keynote speaker at the Friends of the Library Spring Literary Luncheon. He did a "reading" from this book (really a performance, sans any notes ... hilarious!)

Tracy (tstan) | 1237 comments I have this one- I think I’m going to put it up closer to the top.

message 4: by Sushicat (new)

Sushicat | 805 comments I have Devil‘s Highway on my TBR. I think Bookconcierge is to blame ;-)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6381 comments Sushicat wrote: "I have Devil‘s Highway on my TBR. I think Bookconcierge is to blame ;-)"

I will gladly take the blame for getting anyone to read one of Urrea's books. (Though I haven't read The Devil's Highway: A True Story ... yet)

Joy D | 4595 comments I put it on my TBR as I will definitely read more by this author.

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