Length: 304 pages
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 12 minutes
First Published: 2014
After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery–the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes–will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.
At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamá fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.
Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.
Quotes from the book of unknown americans
People do what they have to in this life. We try to get from one end of it to the other with dignity and with honor. We do the best we can.
You shouldn’t want to be like everyone else. Then you wouldn’t be like you.
Sleep was like wealth, elusive and for other people.
About Cristina Henriquez
Henríquez’s father is from Panama and immigrated to the U.S. in 1971 for college; her mother is from New Jersey and worked in Delaware public schools as a translator. Henríquez was born in Delaware and attended school in the U.S., but spent summers in Panama. She did not speak Spanish as a child and so on visits “had no choice but to sit there and observe” dynamics she later evoked in her writing, particularly the warmth and joy of family life among her father’s relatives. She currently lives in Illinois. Visit the author’s website →