The Book of Unknown Americans (Paperback)

By Cristina Henriquez

Vintage, 9780345806406, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

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Description

Named a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, The Daily Beast's Novel of the Year, and a Mother Jones, Oprah.com, School Library Journal, and BookPage Best Book of the Year

When fifteen-year-old Maribel Rivera sustains a terrible injury, the Riveras leave behind a comfortable life in Mexico and risk everything to come to the United States so that Maribel can have the care she needs. Once they arrive, it's not long before Maribel attracts the attention of Mayor Toro, the son of one of their new neighbors, who sees a kindred spirit in this beautiful, damaged outsider. Their love story sets in motion events that will have profound repercussions for everyone involved. Here Henriquez seamlessly interweaves the story of these star-crossed lovers, and of the Rivera and Toro families, with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. The Book of Unknown Americans is a stunning novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love--a book that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.


About the Author

Cristina Henriquez is the author of the story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection, and the novel The World in Half. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, Glimmer Train, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, AGNI, and Oxford American, as well as in various anthologies. She lives in Illinois.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. How does Alma’s perspective in the novel’s first chapter illustrate her and her family’s hopes for their new life in America? Take another look at her statement after the trip to the gas station: “The three of us started toward the road, doubling back in the direction from which we had come, heading toward home” (11). What are the meanings of “home” here, and how does this scene show how America meets and differs from the Riveras’ expectations of it?generic viagra price canada
  2. Mayor describes how he’s bullied at school and his general feelings of not fitting in. How do you think this draws him to Maribel? What do they have in common that perhaps those around them, including their parents, cannot see on the surface?generic viagra price canada
  3. What are some key differences in the way that the women in the novel respond to challenges of assimilation compared to the men? How does Alma’s point of view highlight these differences?generic viagra price canada
  4. What brings Alma and Celia together as neighbors and friends, and how does their relationship change by the end of the book?generic viagra price canada
  5. How does Alma’s lingering guilt about Maribel’s accident affect her choices and interactions when she’s in America? Do you think that she still feels this way by the end of the book? What does she have to do, and realize within herself, to move beyond her feelings?generic viagra price canada
  6. Discuss Quisqueya’s role in what happens to Mayor and Maribel. Without her intervention, how might have their relationship, and ultimately the novel, ended differently?generic viagra price canada
  7. How does the Toros’ buying a car influence the course of events in the novel? What does the car mean for Rafael and Mayor individually and for their father-son relationship?generic viagra price canada
  8. Do you, the members of your family, or your friends have stories of moving to another country to start a new life? Did any of the stories in the novel resonate with those you know?generic viagra price canada
  9. How does the final chapter, told in Arturo’s voice, influence your understanding of what he felt about America? What do you make of how he ends his narrative, “I loved this country,” and that it is the last line of the book (286)?generic viagra price canada
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