It's that time of year that book readers start grabbing friends and strangers by the shoulders and saying -- Read this Book! Don't Miss This Book!! We start worrying that the really good books, the important books, are going to get washed away by the tide of terrible or even just standard books.
This is the Don't Miss This!! book for me.
I wasn't expecting much from this book, especially not a trip down memory lane. I love that it helped remind me of stories from my past, stories I'll soon share. It helped me remember why I have such a heart for immigrants. It humanized the current politics and taught me things I didn't know. It was interesting to me that the setting was not Texas. I kept being surprised that Delaware was the location but I think that was a good thing as it gives a fresh look.
It was hard for me to read, because I kept waiting for the axe to drop, but in the end I couldn't put it down. The sweetest story to me was that of Alma and Arturo, the couple that moves in order to help their daughter get better from a brain injury. Theirs is just an unadulterated pure love for each other and for their daughter. There are other stories mixed in, and I actually liked this, it gave me a break from the story that I knew was going to be difficult every step of the way. The name of the book comes from one of those stories and by the time it is delivered, you know how true it is.
Confession -- After reading this, I sat there and cried. It's the first time I've actually wept at the end of a book in a long, long time. I love my country but we are so screwed up. Don't worry, I think it was just a self reaction -- remember, when you read you bring your whole self into it. You probably won't have that reaction. But maybe you'll carry it in your heart. I hope you'll carry it in your heart. I hope you'll think about caring about these people, about immigrants.
One favorite quote, from Arturo: "I'll tell them what I love about this country."
Here are a few more:
“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 that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them. And who would they hate then?”
― Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans