The Book of Unknown AmericansBook - 2014
Set in Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, The Book of Unknown Americans is the story of the Rivera family--relocating to the U.S. after their daughter, Maribel, suffers a life-changing accident--and the Toro family from Panama. When Maribel and Mayor Toro fall in love, it marks the beginning of a friendship between the two families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at the novel's core. Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America, yielding an extraordinary reading experience that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American. Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.
From the critics
QuotesAdd a Quote
"There was only one word - you. It applied to all people. Everyone equal. No one higher or lower than anyone else. No one more distant or more familiar. You. They. Me. I. Us. We. There were no words that changed from feminine to masculine and back again depending on the speaker. A person from New York. Not a woman from New York, not a man from New York. Simply a person."
From Cristina Henriquez on tumblr (http://unknownamericans.tumblr.com/yourstory) "One of my hopes for The Book of Unknown Americans was that it might tell stories people don't usually hear. And now, another hope: that we will all tell our #UnknownAmerican stories. Where did you or your family come from? What is your life like now? We'll create a chorus and make our voices known.
Share your story. To share your story, submit a piece (400 words max) and an accompanying photo, either of yourself or the place you’re writing about, to:
Or, if you’re on Tumblr, blog your unknown americans story and tag it with #unknownamericans, and we will reblog you.
Any posted story will also be posted on Cristina Henriquez’s Facebook page.
Please note that not all stories that are submitted will be posted. "
"Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well." Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans, p.3
“You can come back one day. Or I could come there."
"I could find you."
"Finding is for the things that are lost. You don't need to find me, Mayor.”
― Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans
“It's in you,' my dad assured me once. 'You were born in Panamá. It's in your bones.'
You never know what life will bring...But that's what makes it so exciting, no? That's what keeps me going. The possibility.
"sleep was like wealth, elusive and for other people.”
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JanieHH thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over
SummaryAdd a Summary
This beautiful, simply told tale captured my heart. With all the anti-Latino rhetoric pervasive in the Republican candidates' speeches, this book tells why so many people come to America, just as our ancestors did recently or years ago from other parts of the world. The protagonists are the Rivera family members, who come from Mexico to seek rehabilitation for their teenage daughter who suffered a head injury. Their encounters with people from all over Central and South America in their apartment complex reveals the basic need of all these people to find a better life & fulfill dreams. The author doesn't try to embellish each character with complexity - and, by doing so, the characters become more complex as we get to,know them. Beautifully written - much like Hemingway in that by saying less, more is uncovered.
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