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The Book of Unknown Americans
The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel | Cristina Henrquez
A triumph of storytelling. Henrquez pulls us into the lives of her characters with such mastery that we hang on to them just as fiercely as they hang on to one another and their dreams. This passionate, powerful novel will stay with you long after youve turned the final page. Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynns Long Halftime Walk A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American. Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether shell ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better. When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. Its also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novels core. Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart. Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality. This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
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review
mollyrotondo
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I absolutely loved this book! The audio was excellent! I listened at my desk at work with tears running down my face. Loved how in between the two main voices, Alma and Mayor, there were different South American characters who lived in the apartment building telling their stories. It just heightened the book‘s emotional level. I highly recommend this one!

marleed This was a 5 star read for me too! 5mo
mollyrotondo @marleed loved it! I was very impressed with the audio book. 5mo
39 likes2 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Mehso-so

3⭐
I know there are race reviews about this. I listened to the audio and maybe I should have read it.
While the story is well written and I appreciate the way it lays out the different reasons and challenges it takes to get to the US. I can tell though that this book is not going to stick with me. There is some sort of depth missing for me.

ChaoticMissAdventures Forgot! This is my #bookspin one down 2to go because I missed one in February. @TheAromaofBooks 2y
TheAromaofBooks Just because a book has a good message doesn't automatically mean that it's a good story. I think some books are hard to review because of that. 2y
ChaoticMissAdventures @TheAromaofBooks so hard to review. Do you give an extra star because the message is needed? I don't know. And I feel like I wobble on this, sometimes I do, sometimes not. I can usually be swayed by Roxane Gay's reviews - she gave this a 5 - but just not feeling that here. 2y
TheAromaofBooks I always think it's important to remember that reviews like this are just our own personal opinion. I've definitely given books low ratings that other people loved or found inspiring, because it just wasn't a book for me!! 2y
16 likes4 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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#bookspin thanks @TheAromaofBooks I am excited to get these off my TBR!

Bookspin #2 The Book of Unknown Americans
Double Bookspin #18 The Salt Path

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 2y
5 likes1 comment
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Sydneypaige
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Pickpick

I was completely entranced and enchanted by these characters and families. Beautiful and heartbreaking and an immigrant perspective that needs to be heard.

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WriterAtHeart
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Pickpick

This book just fell into my life and I am glad that it did. Exquisite characters and great storytelling. I will definitely be reading more by Cristina Henriquez.

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Smrloomis
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Pickpick

This was beautiful and moving in a quiet way. Highly recommended. ❤️❤️❤️

amywithbooks Loved this one. Many tears were shed though 😭🥺 2y
Smrloomis @amywithbooks yes! So true 2y
That-Bookish-Hiker I was on the train when I read the end of this book and was ugly crying on the ride. Didn‘t even care. This book is ❤️. 2y
Smrloomis @That-Bookish-Hiker I can imagine! The ending was so good I thought. 2y
71 likes4 stack adds4 comments
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Smrloomis
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Finally reading this after having a copy for ... 5 years at least? It‘s good so far in a quiet way.

AmyG Ha-only 5 years? 2y
Smrloomis @AmyG 😂 I really have no idea but only about 5 years sounds right 😝 2y
rockpools Yup. I was just apologising to someone who‘d given me a book (still unread) more than 3 years ago... This was a good one. In fact I think I still have my library copy - a bunch of lockdowns happen - I should probably try & return it!! 2y
Smrloomis @rockpools 😅 glad I‘m not the only one with books waiting for years. I‘ve heard good things about it and so far I‘m enjoying it! 2y
80 likes1 stack add4 comments
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JillR
The Book of Unknown Americans | Cristina Henrquez
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Pickpick

My best of 2020! I didn‘t think 2020 had been my year of reading, despite too much time at home, but then I went back through what I‘ve read and loved and these beauties were all amazing enough to pull me away from everything else going on. To do that, this year of all years, means these books were truly fantastic. After far too much procrastinating I think I loved the tagged book most of all. Whatever 2021 brings I‘m excited for all the books 💛

TrishB Good choices 👍🏻 2y
emmaturi The Dutch House is one of my favorites too! 2y
Caroline2 Good stack. 😀 I‘m reading Any Human Heart in January so glad to hear it‘s good. 😉 2y
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JillR @caroline2 I loved it - there‘s a tv mini series too, which I saw some years ago and also loved :) 2y
JillR @emmaturi a new author for me, so was v happy I loved it! 2y
merelybookish Great stack of books! 2y
46 likes6 comments
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eccburnham
Pickpick

Loved this book - especially on audio!

marleed One of my 5* reads in 2020! 2y
3 likes1 comment
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la_rose_noire
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Pickpick

Such a nice moving story about a Mexican family moving to the United States to get a better education for their injured teenager daughter. 💙💙💙

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la_rose_noire
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rjsthumbelina I loved that book so much! 2y
23 likes1 comment
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la_rose_noire
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What a great moment! sharing my love for reading with my youngest ! #raisingreaders

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TorieStorieS
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Pickpick

Wow- I super-loved my #Panama pick for the #ReadAroundTheWorld challenge!! I definitely ugly-cried & came to really love each character. The book is fabulously written & offers a real sense of community within this Delaware apartment complex. The two main narrators, Mayor (from Panama) & Alma (from Mexico), keep the story moving & their love of Maribel at the center stops this from being a completely depressing read. I didn‘t want it to end!!

BookwormM Sounds great glad you enjoyed it 2y
TorieStorieS @BookwormM I definitely recommend it!! And now onto research what I will read next month for Qatar!! ☺️ 2y
56 likes2 comments
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rockpools
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Pickpick

I liked this, but I‘m not sure I connected with it quite as much as I‘d hoped to - a me-not-it issue.

Alma and Arturo move from Mexico to Delaware, to get teenage daughter Maribel the special ed support she needs. Mayor, lonely & of similar age, whose family come from Panama, watches them move in. Interspersed with the growing friendship between the two families, we learn the stories of the other residents, the myriad hopes that brought them

rockpools to the USA from across Central America.

I did like the relationship between Mayor and Maribel, the difference him seeing her as herself rather than a girl-with-a-traumatic-brain-injury makes. I‘m curious, though, as to why she never gets to tell her own story.
2y
rockpools So this is November‘s #readaroundtheworld #panama, another for #BookSpinBingo & #CrushTheRush and #BBRC #VioletYourTurningViolet for a short sentence near the end when Maribel indicates she‘s planning to turn purple, and all the good that signifies for Alma 2y
Sarahreadstoomuch I‘ve wanted to read this, but haven‘t had the chance (even when it was my book club book one month!) great review! 2y
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TrishB Great review 👍🏻 you got there. I remember loving this. Different times! 2y
squirrelbrain Great review! 😁👍 2y
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick Look at you, checking off a box in multiple challenges! Awesome job! 👏👏👏 2y
TheAromaofBooks Great progress!! 2y
rockpools @Sarahreadstoomuch It‘d make a great book club read! Do keep it on your tbr 🙂 2y
rockpools @TrishB I know! Books are having to work Really Hard to keep hold of us at the moment, aren‘t they? 2y
rockpools @squirrelbrain Thanks Helen ☺️ 2y
rockpools @Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick @TheAromaofBooks Thank you, both! I‘m definitely getting through the challenge reads this month, thanks to your prompting 😁 2y
TrishB Yes, I feel sorry for some books I‘ve read this year 😁 2y
LibrarianRyan I like you pick and the reason. 2y
65 likes13 comments
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rockpools
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Starting this for #readaroundtheworld #panama. Good do far. Expecting tears later! Also, how different is this cover?

TrishB I was about to look it up- but realised I‘d read with the other cover! I enjoyed this, though sad. 2y
Cathythoughts Nice picture 👍🏻❤️ 2y
Freespirit Love that cover 2y
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erzascarletbookgasm Great cover 2y
TorieStorieS This is my pick too for this month! 2y
rockpools @TorieStorieS I hope you enjoy it 😁 2y
TorieStorieS I am so far!! 😃 2y
61 likes2 stack adds7 comments
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PurpleTulipGirl
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Pickpick

The lives of a group of immigrants who live in an apartment building in Delaware. Each has their own reason to live in the US, their own hopes. But all are looking for a better life.

marleed I loved this book and have recommended often! 2y
24 likes1 comment
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PurpleTulipGirl
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“Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well.”

@ShyBookOwl #FirstLineFridays

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Creadnorthey
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Pickpick

I‘m still wiping the tear from my eye, even if reviews had forewarned me! The story is heartbreaking on numerous levels and it‘s installment like structure broke the tension with “true accounts”- the last of which is the most heartbreaking of all.

14 likes1 stack add
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Butterfinger
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Pickpick

If I was prone to crying, I would be sobbing hysterically right now.

#BBRB Pretty in Pink @LibrarianRyan @Sarahreadstoomuch

July's double book spin @TheAromaofBooks

marleed I absolutely loved this book! 3y
Butterfinger @marleed it broke my heart. The author did a great job examining cause and effect. 3y
LibrarianRyan 😁👍🏻❤️ 3y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 3y
That-Bookish-Hiker I finished this book on the train home from work and was crying. People looked at me weird but when a book moves you 🤷🏽‍♀️. (edited) 3y
50 likes5 comments
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Butterfinger

That first day, the words were merely sounds in the air, broken little shards of glass, beautiful from a certain angle, and jagged from another.

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JillR
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Pickpick

Oh my, this story stole my heart then broke it. So many things in so few pages. There are snippets of the stories of those in an immigrant Latino community and how they each ended up in a little town in Delaware, woven into the story of Arturo, Alma and their daughter Maribel, as they arrive from Mexico. Simply, heartbreakingly beautiful.

TrishB I loved this one too ❤️ so sad. 3y
JillR @Trishb it is 😢 3y
48 likes2 comments
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Shhh...IAmReading
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Another great read! This book is great on audio, too—it‘s narrated by various people which works great for the stories! I loved getting the multitude of perspectives—each chapter is narrated by a different character(mainly between 2)but it follows a same story.Woven into the stories are testimonials that shed some light into the Latino immigrant experience in the U.S. showing differences in family structures,status,and levels of “Americanization.”

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Tove_Reads
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Pickpick

Alma Rivera is certain that the US will bring her family the fame and fortune they are after. In the case of her family, it is about getting her daughter into a good special needs school, and her hard-working husband a good job. The reality is harsher than that, as we know. “I assumed that everything that would go wrong in our lives already had.“ #Panama #readingtheworld

marleed Loved this - read as a companion read to American Dirt and highly recommend! Also, this is a fun cover to compare to 3y
39 likes1 comment
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melissajayne
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Pickpick

4⭐️ Took me awhile to understand the point of the book; it was the section titled “Micho Alvarez” (about 2/3 of the way through the book) that made me understand the author‘s intention of the book. Made me understand even more why people risk their lives crossing the US/Mexico border. #bookstagram #ownvoices #fiction #bookreview #immigrantstories #2020

marleed I loved this book. I read it this year after it was recommended as a book to read instead of or as a companion to (depending on you perspective) American Dirt. 3y
melissajayne @marleed I read it instead of American Dirt 3y
24 likes2 comments
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BobbiB
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Pickpick

This was a sweet story. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Mayor and Maribel. I also appreciated the way the author handled difficult topics. She didn't sidestep the realities of grief and guilt and the way our own minds can become our enemies.

I listened to the audiobook, and appreciated that the characters were voiced by different narrators. It felt immersive as each person told their own story. Reading it myself couldn't compare.

marleed I loved this book. I read it this year and highly recommend as a companion to 3y
7 likes1 comment
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marleed
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Pickpick

This is an incredible tribute to the Latino community and how some arrive to CONUS. It was recommended as an alternative or companion (depending on your POV) to America Dirt (which I liked). It was published in 2014 and received many accolades. A few chapters in I realized I hadn‘t researched the author - she‘s from Delaware. Her father immigrated from Panama as a college student. Her passion is obvious.

#ReadTheUSA2020 Delaware

NeedsMoreBooks I enjoyed this book. She describes a lot things, pretty accurately 3y
marleed @NeedsMoreBooks I loved the snippets from the Latino neighbors of the MCs and the varied reasons and ways they came to Delaware. 3y
68 likes2 comments
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marleed
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1. Absolutely, it‘s one of my favorite things to do!
2. I have a library hold on this book (reading Latinx authors alongside American Dirt) but yesterday I stopped in a thrift shop, and found my own $2 copy.
3. Mainstream online media. Very little TV - pundits are not healthy for me.
4. Snooze button! I have to use alarms daily less I sleep 12 hours. If only I could donate my sleep!
5. Love you all! #FriYaYintro. @4thhouseontheleft

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WorldsOkayestStepMom
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Pickpick

Cristina Henriquez created such a beautiful story. It made me cry, and that doesn't happen with a lot of books I read.

NeedsMoreBooks I enjoyed this, pretty realistic and raw. 3y
48 likes2 comments
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reneelyons
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Pickpick

I adored this book. A perfect #ownvoices alternative to American Dirt. 4/5 stars.

Full review: https://reneereadsbooks.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/book-review-the-book-of-unknown...

reneelyons @MyBookSwapClub It‘s so good! 3y
25 likes2 comments
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DreesReads
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Pickpick

Pick with reservations—this is actually a YA book, which I did not know. This story follows Maribel, a Mexican girl with a TBI. Her parents have waited for a work visa to get her into an excellent school for kids like her. Her family lives in a small apartment building with Spanish speakers from a variety of countries. The story focuses on her friendship with Mayor, the stories of the other residents, life in America, and the boy harassing her.

BarbaraBB Hey, did you change your Litsy handle? 3y
DreesReads I did! I changed it to match my bookstagram because I‘m on there more. 3y
BarbaraBB That is good to know! I am on Instagram but not about books but I‘ll look you up! 3y
DreesReads @BarbaraBB do! I‘m much more on top of reviewing and sharing there. 3y
BarbaraBB Just did and see that you still read the books I want to 😀 3y
33 likes1 stack add5 comments
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Reading_in_the_meadow
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Pickpick

⭐⭐⭐⭐

While heartbreaking at times, I really enjoyed this book. It opened my eyes to the struggles of immigrants, especially those from Latin American countries. As a native born, white woman, I have not experienced a lot of what these characters have, but the universal experiences of guilt, loss, and first love speak to all.

Addison_Reads Great review. I read this earlier this year and loved it. Heartbreaking yes, but a story that needs to be told. 3y
Reading_in_the_meadow @Addison_Reads thank you so much! And yes, definitely a story that needs to be told. I love how fiction can teach us so much through storytelling. 3y
19 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Wildly_Bookish
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Pickpick

What a great and terrible book. It's hard to look at your life through the eyes of someone else. When Alma talks about how she is simultaneously conspicuous and inconspicuous, I wonder how many times I've unintentionally made someone feel that way.

The loss Alma and Maribel experience is one that hits me close to home. I know the loss of a father and the pain I saw in my mother because of it. It takes immense strength to go on.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Wildly_Bookish
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Getting a head start on next month's book club pick.

#everythingbutselfhelp #irlbookclub #bookclub

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BibliovoreSarah
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“You shouldn't want to be like everyone else. Then you wouldn't be like you.” ⁠⠀
― Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans⁠⠀
⁠⠀

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Addison_Reads
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Pickpick

This was such a great book. 💚 The differing POVs with each chapter was an interesting way to immerse the reader in the various obstacles that immigrants face and bring a depth to the characters that made you care about their struggles and their triumphs.

#ReadingUSA2019 #Delaware @Librarybelle

Librarybelle I have this one on my book shelves...glad you liked it! 4y
Hooked_on_books Great choice. I loved this book. 4y
rjsthumbelina I LOVED this book! And I think it's so timely now, with immigration being on the forefront of our political field 4y
Come-read-with-me This really is a fantastic book -,the characters are so well crafted. Great choice. 4y
38 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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Jenken1998
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Pickpick

❤❤❤❤❤ a story about the immigrant experience. Specifically the Latino immigrant experience. A family moves to Delaware from Mexico. They are looking for a better life for themselves and their daughter, who has a medical condition. You see them struggle to acclimate yet never lose hope as they rely on one another and a network of other immigrant families. I feel it's a book about hope more than anything. ❤❤❤❤❤

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Jenken1998
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Tonights read.. if i can keep my eyes open. It has been a long day 😴😴😴😴😴😴

amywithbooks Loved this one so much 😍😭 4y
64 likes1 comment
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KellyHunsakerReads
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Today‘s #audiobook is wonderful. The narrators are all very good.

Smrloomis This has been on my TBR for years already 🤷🏻‍♀️ Hope it‘s good enough to finish 🤞🏽 (edited) 4y
29 likes1 stack add1 comment
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scripturient
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Mehso-so

This was a pleasant read that gives a good insight into the lives of immigrants in the US. I would have liked a bit more critical depth though as everyone in this novel is just happy even though they are living on the edges of society. There is a full review on my blog - clickable link in my bio. 😊

Smrloomis Hmm, darn, I have a copy I haven‘t started and I had high hopes for it 🤷🏻‍♀️ 4y
valeriegeary @Smrloomis I really liked this one when I read it. I think it's worth checking out. 🤷 4y
TheAromaofBooks The cover is certainly gorgeous, though!! 4y
Smrloomis @valeriegeary Thanks! I‘m going to have to give it a try. 🤞🏽 4y
92 likes4 comments
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scripturient
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Just started this one yesterday and enjoying it.

rjsthumbelina I loved this book! This is a great cover, too 4y
83 likes1 comment
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Cinfhen
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#MayMovieMagic #BeatleMaynia #Because it‘s Mother‘s Day I‘m combining my #ImmigrantSong with a book that focuses on the immigrant experience told through the eyes of a mother‘s love. Alma, Arturo and Maribel, travel across the Mexico-U.S. border to Delaware to start a new life. Maribel has been involved in a mysterious accident and has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Her parents are hopeful that America will “fix” their problems. If only.

TrishB I loved this one 💕 Happy Mother‘s Day to you 😘 4y
erzascarletbookgasm Happy Mother‘s Day! 💐💗 4y
rohit-sawant Great mashup! Happy Mother's Day! 💕 4y
See All 13 Comments
Cinfhen Thanks for the Mother‘s Day wishes @TrishB @erzascarletbookgasm back at ya 💕💕Thanks @rohit-sawant I think Ill buy myself a present since nobody in my family did 😁😂 4y
TrishB In that case I would definitely be buying myself a present! 4y
Crazeedi Happy mother's day Cindy! 💐👑 4y
Cinfhen Thank you so much @Crazeedi 🥰hope you have a wonderful day as well 😘 4y
saresmoore Happy Mother‘s Day to one of my very favorite Litsy mamas! 💐♥️🥰 4y
Cinfhen Right back at you @saresmoore 💋🎉❣️Happy Mother‘s Day 🌻🌻🌻 4y
mrp27 Happy Mother's Day! 💐 4y
Cinfhen That book sounds really good @lynneamch thanks for the recommendation 4y
Cinfhen Thanks @mrp27 Hope you did something special today 😘 4y
94 likes13 comments
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Owlizabeth
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arader68
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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?

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EH2018
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Enjoying some "linner" before heading to the Branch Thanks for the ebook @dariazeoli it is off to a great start!

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MicheleinPhilly
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Pickpick

A vitally important novel that is sadly illustrative of the country we live in today.

In the words of Michelle Obama: “It‘s hard to hate up close.”

5🌟

TrishB I loved this one too 💔 just got two colleagues in work to read too! 4y
MissSarahLou Such a beautiful, relevant, and heartbreaking book. One of my favorites! 4y
83 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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MicheleinPhilly
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It feels like the right moment for this one. #currentlyreading

nomadreader I liked this one, and you're so right about timing. 4y
TrishB 💔loved this one. 4y
86 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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EH2018
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Thank you so much @dariazeoli !! So sorry I missed this on the 24th!! I really appreciate it! It sounds like a great read! Merry Christmas!! 🎄📚😻 #kindlitsy

dariazeoli You‘re welcome! Hope you had a great holiday! 4y
40 likes1 comment
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Amiable
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Pickpick

A really nice story about the Latino immigrant community in Delaware with special focus on one family who has a child with traumatic brain injury. Well written and a quick read.

62 likes2 stack adds
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Matilda
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This book is amazing (especially the audiobook) and its only $2.99 ebook right now!!!!!!!!!

42 likes1 stack add