This summer I have done a lot of reading. At least, it's a lot more than I've read in the recent past. I loved The Good Shufu and just finished The Maze Runner on Audible. Currently, I'm halfway through Everything I Never Told You. And while at the beach, I read The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez.
Since this last one focused on immigrant stories, I thought you might enjoy it, too.
The Book of Unknown Americans is set in an apartment building in Delaware. The residents all hail from Central and South America. Each chapter is narrated by a different tenant and unfolds their unique immigration experiences and the ways they've connected in their new home.
Several characters lead multiple chapters, and the driving story is the relationship between two families, particularly their teenagers. Yes, there's a little love story brewing, which I'm always a sucker for!
One reviewer on Amazon wrote, "It just seemed a bit too YA." They said this as a critic, but in my book, there is no higher compliment. Is there any other genre?
I particularly appreciated the nuance of the immigration stories. Many different countries are represented, as well as different journeys to arrive at this apartment complex. Everyone also has a unique perspective about their own experience, which felt more authentic to me and the immigrant stories I've heard.
Henríquez does not seem to be pushing an agenda with the novel. But as the reality of the immigrant experience is told through their own voices, it's hard not to feel compassion.
It's truly a beautiful story, and a quick read. I only have one caution. Why did I think a novel about immigrants would be a good beach read? There was definitely a moment when I was reading and crying while sitting by the pool.
Still, it was a good one, and if you're looking for a new book, check out The Book of Unknown Americans. And a little bonus? The author started a Tumblr for folks to share their own stories. You can read those here.
LIKE TO READ? Check out some of my other favorite multicultural books here.
Have you read The Book of Unknown Americans? What did you think? What was your favorite summer read? (I always need new books!)