This book was so well written and emotionally engaging. Despite the way the book moved from character to character, I really felt like I was in their shoes, feeling what they felt and struggling along with them. At first I was a little confused about the characters because I don't remember much Spanish from school, and also I didn't always know from the names whether a character was male or female (yes, I'm confessing my ignorance). Even with these little hiccups, I was drawn into the world from the beginning, and soon I had most of the characters sorted out.
I really feel like everyone should read this book or one like it. I came away from it with a deeper respect for immigrants and (I think) a better understanding of what life in the U.S. is like for them. There were so many endearing moments, as well as a few when I wanted to smack people, especially the boy, Mayor. I could understand where he was coming from, but like many teen boys, he was thinking much more about what he wanted than what was best for him and others involved.
The thing is, I didn't exactly enjoy this book. The writing is fantastic, the stories intriguing, and the characters totally relatable, even to me, but it's sad. It's a story of struggle and only sometimes overcoming, not a fun tale for down time. Still, you should read it. Read it some time when you're not low on emotional energy.
Language: There's some profanity, not tons.
Sexual Content: There are a few scenes, short and not super detailed, and they're central to the story. I don't recommend this to young adults. A couple of the scenes creeped me out because of the people involved (minors and mentally disabled). I might have made it sound worse than it was, but I want to give fair warning. Still, I wouldn't pass this up because of the sexual content.
Overall Message/Plot: Fantastic. The plot was loose and woven around numerous characters, not so much leading toward a climax as it was exploring the journey, but the message was profound. I was taken in by the characters and their dilemmas, so enabled to see the world through their eyes, and thereby feel a sense of connection and sympathy with them that I wouldn't have imagined before reading it.
Note: 'The Book of Unknown Americans' is expensive whether it be hardback or ebook. I waited on a list to reserve it through my library, and recommend that you do the same. If you love it and want to read it over and over, then you can invest in your own copy.
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