The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
This is a love story. At its heart, it is the story of two teenagers who fall in love, and it’s a story wrapped up in the fabric of the small and caring world of Hispanic immigrants who have made their way to Delaware to find a life better than the one they left behind.
For the Rivera family, the hope in coming to the United States is a school that specializes in teaching children with brain injuries. Their daughter, Maribel, had a bad fall off of a ladder at the site of her father’s construction company in Mexico, and they believe that only this special school has the promise of bringing their daughter as they knew her back to them.
For Mayor’s family, leaving a war ravaged Panama meant giving their sons a better chance at life. For all the immigrants who live together in a shoddy apartment building, it was for hope of something better. Soon, Mayor and Maribel fall in love, and he seems to be able to reach down to the heart and mind of the former girl.
Life is not easy for any of the families. They have left their homelands and families behind. They find themselves in a world that is not kind to them, and one where they stand out and seem to be invisible at the same time. This is America’s story. It’s the story of people coming to a new land with hope in their hearts and a deep desire for a better life.
Knopf/Random House; ISBN 978-0- 38535-084-6; $24.95.