✪✪✪ Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao
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But just because I sympathize with th Call me cold-hearted but I found this novel both overly simplistic and overly sentimental, with too few genuine characters and too many archetypes who say things to each other like, "Finding is for things that are lost. But just because I sympathize with the author's mission doesn't make me a fan of her writing. View all 24 comments. Jul 20, Kkraemer rated it really liked it.
Many Americans resent this deeply. Some are "legal. Some are from Mexico, some from Guatemala, some from Panama…the people commonly lumped together as a single, uniform group. Those people. Their stories are as varied as those of any group of people who operate on the hope that things will get better…if not for them, then for their children. At the core of this books is a love story, a tender heart breaking love story that makes all of the other stories even more real. This is a wonderful book. View all 9 comments. Oct 11, Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: overdrive , contemporary-fiction , e-book. Checking this book out is like doing a for me as I usually stick pretty close to my preferred genres.
But, something about it spoke to me and so I decided to give it a try. So often we hear about laws, and issues, and the numbers surrounding immigration without stopping to consid The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez is a Knopf publication. So often we hear about laws, and issues, and the numbers surrounding immigration without stopping to consider the human element.
This book puts names with faces, and finally humanizes the population of people who come to this country for various reasons, hoping for a better way of life. When Maribel Riveras suffers a traumatic brain injury, her family moves to America to enroll her in a special school in hopes she will eventually regain all she lost in the accident. Fifteen year old Mayor Toro has lived in America his entire life, but his family is from Panama.
He and Maribel strikes up a friendship which eventually turns into a sweet and tender love story while their parents struggle with the decision they made to make America their home. While the topic of immigration is one that is sure to spark instant and heated debate, especially during an election year, this book is not a political novel, it is just a story that paints a vivid portrait of the way of life many immigrants face after moving to America. There are inspired moments amid the bittersweet and poignant realities, and will really make you stop and consider things from an entirely different perspective.
I admired the families that were represented in this story, and recognized in them the same qualities as most Americans possess. They worked hard to provide for their families, they had hopes and dreams, went through good times and bad, but mostly they wanted to give their children a better way of life, something which I think we all strive for. The love story between Maribel and Mayor is especially touching and despite the animosity and stubbornness, his father exhibited, Mayor followed his heart, and his attention to Maribel was what brought about the biggest improvements for her.
Although the story was not necessarily one that left me feeling upbeat or all that hopeful in the end, it did enlighten me, and is very thought provoking. I can see why this story as garnered such critical acclaim and I have to say I am pleased I took a chance on it. Overall- 4 stars View all 8 comments. Jul 29, Melissa rated it really liked it Shelves: , heartbreaking.
More than anything, I appreciate the fresh perspective and the eye-opening nature of this story. What I will say - I walked away from this story looking at things a little differently. It made me feel like the human aspect of the situation is too easily overlooked. I think we forget that some of these immigrants are ju More than anything, I appreciate the fresh perspective and the eye-opening nature of this story. I think we forget that some of these immigrants are just people looking for a better life - a way to take care of their families.
A school that could help her make progress after suffering a traumatic brain injury. The author weaves in a few chapters from each of those immigrants, a backstory of sorts on how they ended up in America. I thought it was an interesting touch. A part of me felt like he was taking advantage of Maribel somehow. Did she truly understand what was happening? What really struck me was how this family had to essentially let go of a part of their culture.
Can you imagine? How would you ask for help? At one point, Alma gets lost and struggles to figure out how to get home. I was panicking for her. The ending left me completely heartbroken. I honestly saw things going differently and I really wish they had. Overall, I found this to be a heartfelt and thought-provoking story. View all 17 comments. Jul 13, David rated it it was ok. This book could have been so much better than it was. As it is, it's a trainwreck. The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is simply because it's bizarrely readable even in spite of the very little substance there is at hand.
Where do I even begin with this books issues? The rhythm the book sets into -- Alma-narrated chapter, Mayor-narrated chapter, and brief bio of a tertiary character -- had potential. Yet the tertiary characters' chapters all read painfully alike, with seemingly the This book could have been so much better than it was. Yet the tertiary characters' chapters all read painfully alike, with seemingly the only thing changed the character's respective nationality. Mysteriously, Henriquez ignores all differences between each country; there's nothing particular Nicaraguan about Benny or Venezuelan about Quisqueya.
This device was probably aiming to establish some sens of a pan-Latino identity, but you don't do that by ignoring difference -- you do that by embracing it. Alma had potential as a character, but as a central character to the book, she is perhaps childishly optimistic and at first completely oblivious to the country she is living in. As a child of Latino immigrants and a friend to many Latino immigrants, this couldn't ring more false. Some of the cultural differences she is unaware of are frighteningly simple! Where does she shop for groceries? How does she spend money? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are supermarkets with fixed prices in Mexico.
Similarly, Mayor is likeable -- but to use first person perspective with him simply did not work. Mayor's narration is actually very similar to what I'd expect someone his age and with his cultural background to sound like. The problem is that just isn't very interesting to read. The weird romantic twist his chapters took was creepy, not in the least because he seemed to be praying on a girl with a traumatic brain injury. Worst of all, though was the bizarre and sudden melodramatic turn in the novel's final third.
A more experienced writer could have handled this with grace, but here it simply comes across as needlessly preachy and unnecessarily condescending. Is Henriquez talented? She has plenty of potential, but choosing such an ambitious project as her first novel -- a book that seemingly tries to express the voice of not just one Latin American nationality, but all Latinos -- is out of her grasp, and would likely be out of the grasp of even the most experienced Latino writers. Instead of a revelatory and fascinating look at Latinos in the U. View 1 comment. Apr 04, Alena rated it really liked it. This book wants to be a lot of things — love story, issue-oriented novel, independent essays — which should make it a mess, but somehow all work together to make a book that really touched my heart.
The story is told in alternating voices as we meet the residents of an apartment building in Delaware. All the residents are immigrants and all are Spanish-speaking despite their origins in multiple different countries. The bulk of the story, its heart really, is a love story between Panamanian Mayor, whose family has been in the U. Their journey together, with all its ups and downs, challenges and epiphanies, is the stuff of great YA fiction.
But Henriquez does not stop with the love story. She delves deeper into the lives of their parents and their neighbors. We get to know these immigrants, some of them citizens, some of them illegal in their own voices. This is tricky as Henriquez inhabits over a dozen voices, men and women, young and old. Henriquez does an excellent job of presenting these characters and the issues they face without coming down hard on any side of the political debate. Her characters are simply human. We try to get from one end of it to the other with dignity and with honor.
We do the best we can. She is definitely an author to watch. Jul 22, Victoria rated it really liked it. Perhaps because their chronicles are reminiscent of those of my parents and their friends, they reminded me why so many risk so much to come here. Their stories felt authentic and their feelings of not belonging, realistic. May 23, Mariah Roze rated it really liked it. This book has been on my To-Read list forever, so I am glad I finally read it : This book is told through many points-of-view, but in the book they all end up overlapping somehow.
One family moves to the USA from Mexico after their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident. Their daughter ends up having a Traumatic Brain Injury. The family moves so she can go to one of the best special education schools. They settled down in the Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway This book has been on my To-Read list forever, so I am glad I finally read it : This book is told through many points-of-view, but in the book they all end up overlapping somehow.
They settled down in the Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware. This is where they experienced great friendship and great heartache. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: her personality and her potential. This covers many issues that immigrants face and families with a child that has traumatic brain injury. I suggest this book to anyone that wants to learn and know what it is like to live in a completely new country as an immigrant. View 2 comments. Apr 02, Brooke rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , kindle-reads-worth-owning , tears-were-shed , kindle-reads , , worth-a-reread. This was such a lovely, unexpected read.
I would reread this in a heartbeat after I dig through my TBR list a bit more. Highly recommended!! I am so glad I found this through my GR friends- sometimes the best books are the ones that were never on your radar in the first place. I think the structure was unique but didn't necessarily add anything to the reading experience with the various one-off chapters of other character's stories. They were quite short and displayed the various experiences of immigrants, but didn't elevate the novel in any way.
Each of their stories could have been its own novel, but within the framework of this novel they didn't work. I also felt that Mayor was a sympathetic, interesting characters but [ 3. I also felt that Mayor was a sympathetic, interesting characters but underdeveloped. Considering this novel isn't very long, Henriquez tries to write about so many experiences and from so many voices, that it drowns everything out a bit. Still, an engaging read that gives a real sense of being a foreigner in America, and all of the complications, frustrations and limitations that that can unfortunately bring—even after being granted citizenship. Aug 12, Celeste Ng added it. Another book I tore through in just a couple of sittings.
Henriquez starts with what appears to be a simple love story between two teens and weaves in multiple stories of immigrants from all over Latin America. The result is a much larger love story, between the two teens' families and between the immigrants and the United States itself. Feb 01, Louise rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. There is very little fiction covering the contemporary Latino immigrant experience so this book may have made the New York Times Notables List for its content. While the story is good, there is no subtly. The author's purpose may be to show the goodness of the "unknown Americans", but the characters are not well developed and the details of their lives are not realistic. Can it really be that a successful couple in Mexico who has researched US schools for special needs students, found a job There is very little fiction covering the contemporary Latino immigrant experience so this book may have made the New York Times Notables List for its content.
Can it really be that a successful couple in Mexico who has researched US schools for special needs students, found a job near that school, figured out the visa system, and arranged an apartment has not prepared themselves for their trip with even a few phrases of English? When they moved their household in a truck, did they really have room to acquire a TV and a mattress along the way? Can a diner cook really support a family of four in a single household? These are only a few of the problems in realism with this book. The author shows several instances when parents keep their children in the dark.
Rafael was not direct in telling Major want he learned at school. Alma does not help Maribel understand the assault. At the end Alma leaves Maribel guessing about something significant and life changing for her about her father, which Maribel probably because she was kept in the dark had not even considered at that point; Rafael leaves his son guessing about Maribel's father for far too long. A number of first person narratives are used, perhaps to fit the title, but they do not relate to the story. Space devoted to this would have been better used in developing the characters and showing perspective on the culture and the family dynamic.
There have been some excellent non-fiction narratives on the contemporary immigrant experience such as those in Matt Taibbi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. There have been only a few other cuts at this material in fiction, most notable being The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I think that this book has been well received because tfhere represent a hunger for fiction relating the the Latino immigrant experience. View all 6 comments. I am not going to give my own opinion on this debate, only mention it as it refers to the timeliness of this novel.
The book mostly centers on two families, one who come to the US from Panama and the devastation wrought by the invasion of the US in and the other family who come from Mexico in order to get the help and schooling their brai 3. The book mostly centers on two families, one who come to the US from Panama and the devastation wrought by the invasion of the US in and the other family who come from Mexico in order to get the help and schooling their brain damaged daughter needs, following a horrible accident. These families settle, with other families from many different counties, in an apartment building in Delaware.
There they try to make friends and a community with others like themselves. The author does a wonderful job highlighting the difficulties of these immigrants, who when first arriving speak no English and must trust in those said to be helping them. They are also notoriously easy to being taken advantage of, as many seem willing to do. The price of things are often a shock, the food so different from what they are used to, the work they are given and the salary they make is below par, to say the least. They are always a moment away from disaster, financially and emotionally. This novel gives one a great deal to think about, an opportunity to experience the many different ways these new immigrants try to fit in, how desperately they want to be considered Americans. The romance between the one family's daughter and the son of the other, is almost too sweet, but maybe given the circumstances, understandable.
It is a romance that will cause disaster, and a profound change in circumstance. I would have liked to have seen and felt more tension and depth, but despite that this is a worthy, and as mentioned previously, a timely read. Many other characters tell their stories in this novel, so one does get a cross section of many different stories and the many different reasons they come to the US.
ARC from the publisher. View all 4 comments. Updated to 4 stars. I didn't want this book to end. I wanted to follow the characters and see where the rest of their lives took them. I recommend this one. Jan 02, Libby rated it really liked it. The heart of the story revolves around two families, the Riveras and the Toros. There are some side stories about other immigrants who live in the same apartment building with these two families. Some readers describe these side stories as being detractors and unnecessary to the story. I enjoyed them and thought they were an expansive breathing part of the novel.
The lines from which the author draws the title of her book come from a secondary character in one of these side stories. Macho Alvarez says, "I came from Mexico, but there's a lot of people here who, when they hear that, they think I crawled out of hell. They hear "Mexico," and they think, bad, devil. He says, " I want them to see a guy who has just as much right to be here as they do, or a guy who works hard, or a guy who loves his family, or a guy who's just trying to do the right things. I wish just one of those people, just one, would actually talk to me, talk to my friends, man.
And yes, you can talk to us in English. I know English better than you, I bet. But none of them even want to try. We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them. And who would they hate then?The people must Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao grow Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao own food, and supplies of common household items, such as Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao soap, have been dwindling. Can a diner cook really support a family of four in a single household? Why I Changed My Mind On Weed: Article Analysis book is your essential prep manual, from securing shelter, building fire, finding food, and navigating back to civilization no matter the environment to thinking like a special forces solider so Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao you Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao survive a hostage situation, an active shooter, a suicide bomber, or a terrorist threat on the subway, and even apply trauma medicine as a Summary: The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao responder.