Irrelevant trivia: I think this is the first time I’ve read a book where a major character shared my last name. It happens with my first name much more often.
rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading the blurb for this book, I (as usual) had a fairly vague notion of what it was going to be. The problem was that notion only represented half of the story. I was expecting a coming of age book about a misfit nerd from an immigrant family, exploring their experience in the US. That’s the book I sat down to read, and the book I enjoyed.
There was another half of the book that dealt with the family’s history and ties to the Dominican Republic. This was the most powerful part of the book. It was fascinating and well written. It wasn’t the book I set out to read.
The way the characters were handled in the book was odd. The narrator is a character in the book that wasn’t introduced until quite a ways into the story. As the book skips through time and locations, we are introduced to a variety of characters, and I had a hard time keeping track of them at times.
I found the character of Oscar interesting, as I expected. There was a lot about his life I could identify with, even while other parts were completely. I didn’t have that with any of the other characters, which also made the Dominican sections harder for me to enjoy. The characters of the narrator, his sister, and his mother were will written, they just didn’t grab my interest in the same way.
I wish I’d tracked the history of the Dominican Republic better as I was reading. The descriptions started out in the footnotes, which I read but didn’t hold on to. They then infiltrated the main story. I wish I could convince my husband to read this book and discuss it with me– I think there are a lot of parallels between the history of the Dominican Republic (as talked about here) and the Philippines, where my husband is from.
This book is sticking with me, and really needs a second read– one where I know what is coming. I don’t think it is likely I will do so unless we read it for one of my book clubs. I’ll have to decide whether I’ll nominate it.