Author(s): Cristina Henriquez
We had been planning our life here for so long. Filling out papers, hoping, praying, waiting. We had all of our dreams pinned on this place, but the pin was thin and delicate and it was too soon to tell whether it was going to hold much of anything at all. When Alma Rivera arrives in Newark, Delaware she is brim full of the promise and possibilities of her new American home. Hope that her luminous daughter Maribel will be helped by the specialist education the US can provide, and faith that her husband Arturo will flourish in a country that celebrates the hard-working and the talented. But the reality of life without status, money, family and friends soon becomes apparent. And when violence casts its shadow, Alma realizes that her biggest mistake was assuming that everything that could go wrong in their lives already had...In this tale of great imagination and grace, Cristina Henriquez gives voice to the stories of the displaced and unknown - the untold stories of our time that resonate for us all.
Inspired by the story of her father, Cristina Henriquez has crafted a deeply moving novel about the many different voices of the immigrant experience, and one family in particular.
* The Book of Unknown Americans is filled with the fiercest kinds of love - of a boy for a beautiful girl, of stricken parents for an injured daughter, of an immigrant community for an impossible America. In this powerful novel, Cristina Henriquez gives us unforgettable characters, whose destinies are shaped by forces - senseless, random, political - far beyond their control, and yet whose resilience yields a most profound and unexpected kind of beauty -- RUTH OZEKI author of A Tale for the Time Being * Cristina Henriquez's novel is a triumph not just of storytelling, but of American storytelling, a novel whose breadth and power blow open any traditional definition of 'American.' Henriquez pulls us into the lives of her characters with such mastery that we hang onto them just as fiercely as they hang onto one another, and their dreams. This passionate, powerful novel will stay with you long after you've turned the final page -- BEN FOUNTAIN author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk * A sweeping and ambitious work, with the point of view shifting among a dozen different characters LA Times, Faces to Watch 2014 * The Chicago writer's highly anticipated novel tells the love story of a Pananamian boy and Mexican girl-the latter of whom suffers a near-fatal accident-and the language, racial and cultural obstacles their families face in America Time Out, Book to Read in 2014 * Wonderful. If most novels, or at least most good ones, are songs, then The Book of Unknown Americans is a choir. In a multiplicity of voices, each one distinct and authentic, Cristina Henriquez tells a whole community of stories, and the book that emerges is warm, wise, and unfailingly generous. It never seems to strive for profundity or grasp at poignancy, and yet page by page, as naturally as can be, it rouses the conscience and touches the heart -- Kevin Brockmeier author of The Brief History of the Dead and The Illumination * Here is an important story about family, community and identity, told with elegance and compassion. The Book of Unknown Americans is unforgettable -- Jami Attenberg author of The Middlesteins * A symphonic love story between these immigrants and an impossible America. Told in a multiplicity of voices, the novel manages that rare balance of being both unflinching and unsentimental. In doing so, it rewrites the definition of what it means to be American The Millions: The Great 2014 Book Preview * Some of the characters in The Book of Unknown Americans were born in the United States, others came as adults or were brought here from Central and South America. Their stories speak to us, involve us in their lives. They dream, meet challenges, and dare to live on hope. Sometimes they cry, but they also laugh, dance, make love. In this beautiful book, Cristina Henriquez introduces us to their vibrant lives, to heartbreaking choices, to the tender beginnings of love, and to the humanity in every individual. Unforgettable -- Esmeralda Santiago author of When I Was Puerto Rican and Conquistadora * Spectacular ... highly believable and poignant Library Journal * Distinctively compassionate and original - a moving portrait of people who often pass before our eyes under a veil of invisibility. Gorgeously woven of both hope and delusion, and of the many kinds of love, this is a novel in which characters' assimilations and aspirations are as much to a new country as to something even broader: to other, finer versions of themselves. As a reader I felt assimilated too, forever altered by the extraordinary world Henriquez creates -- HEIDI JULAVITS * Evoking a profound sense of hope, Henriquez delivers a moving account of those who will do anything to build a future for their children - even if it means confronting the fear and alienation lurking behind the American dream Publisher's Weekly
Cristina Henriquez is the author of the novel The World In Half and the story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection. Cristina earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Chicago.