Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books #partner
Page Count: 324
Why I Picked It Up: We visited the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon last year and I jumped at the chance to receive an early copy of this own voices story. As far as I can remember, I haven’t read a book with Dominican characters before.
Synopsis: (From Goodreads)- Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
Opening Sentence: “The first time Juan Ruiz proposes, I’m eleven years old, skinny and flat-chested.”
My Thoughts: Ana is fifteen when a man over twice her age marries her and brings her from the Dominican Republic to NYC. The book is about her first year in NY- how she survived in the city without knowing the language, her dealing with a partner who turns out to be quite worse than expected, and her attempt to meld her culture and family with this new place. This isn’t an easy book to read- TW for abuse and sexual assault, but somehow Ana remains distinctly herself. She’s funny and strong and I loved that she also very much comes across as fifteen. This is set in the 1960s, and the author expertly folded in historical events from both New York and the Dominican Republic. The writing style is unique and took me a bit to get used to- there's a lot of dialogue and no quotations- but once I switched to audio I really got immersed. Bonus- listening to the author interview at the end made me love it even more!
Read this if you want a story that’s rich with culture featuring an authentic character you can root for.
Favorite Quote: “Unlike women, men don’t tolerate being uncomfortable.”
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