People don't write books like this anymore and people rarely read books of this caliber any more. This is hands down a classic. Writing is top notch. Story compelling. The events and emotions poignant. The reading of it is great too. One of the best I've heard on audio.
This is the first T.C. Boyle book I have ever read and I can say it is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in a very long time. The characters were the biggest reason I liked it, probably because I could really identify with several of them, in particular, the white, suburban liberals in the story. Boyle did an amazing job of depicting the continual self-analysis and self-doubt of the typical liberal (me), who wants to come down on the side of the oppressed, but then has a running monolog inside his/her head arguing the other side as soon as the chips are down. Many passages describing the interior debates of the main character had me laughing out loud, recognizing the ludicrousness of much upper middle-class political correctness. In particular, the irony of the woman who was outraged at the treatment of a dog but then couldn’t care less what was happening to the human beings (Mexicans) in her neighborhood was a great reminder of how we often have our priorities completely f%^*-up. Little details like the fact that the white protagonists were lunching salade nicoise with a baguette from the local French bakery, while at the same time, the Mexican protagonists were practically starving in a ravine a short distance away, made me wince, they were so spot-on. The book also helped me better understand some of the reasons why people in states that have a lot of illegal immigrants are so militant about the issue of immigration. I live in Wisconsin, but even here we are not immune to some of the heavy-handed treatment of immigrants (see my review of “Rescuing Regina” for more on that).
I went against my normal rule and listened to this book on audio even though it was read by the author himself. To my surprise, he did a very good job and I would definitely purchase another audio of Boyle reading his own work.
Great, deep themes. Wonderful characters. Emotional, despairing, frustrating. Like not being able to look away from a train wreck. Highly recommend!
This book blew me away. I am impressed that the writer could pen both sides- the yuppie white folks living in their suburban fortresses, and the down-and-out mexicans living in the woods, with such authenticity. Narration was great.
I listened to this book last spring and it still haunts me. It was just one preposterous thing after another, intertwined with a story that needs to be told in some way, but I don't feel this was it. Having grown in up East Los Angeles and having been around Mexican immigrants all of my life, I have never seen one of them wearing a serape or huaraches, which I felt was a bit trite in this story. Also I took issue with the reader using Spanish words and not pronouncing them correctly (such as "guero").
I appreciate that the author was trying to tell a story from all viewpoints, but in the end, I was left unhappy by this story.
I found this book to be quite tedious. The narrator did not appeal to me at all. But even worse, I kept waiting for the two story lines in this book to intersect. They finally do. Unfortunately I had to wait until the very last minute of the book for this to happen. I was disappointed.
I have enjoyed short stories by this author, but I didn't particularly enjoy this novel. There are no likeable characters and the story is quite unbelievable without feeling exactly like a fantasy. So many details that aim to make this sound authentic, but it didn't work for me.
This is a thought-provoking story about a poor Mexican man (Candido) and his wife, and a rich white Californian (Delaney) and his wife that contrasts their lives and struggles. What Delaney and his wife see as difficulties are in sharp contrast to the very real struggles faced by Candido and his wife, America.
I could not finish this book. I kept waiting for the story to start. I listened for several hours and felt like it was all background. So much negativity, depression and disaster. This is the first audiobook I had to quit listening to. I read the reviews before I bought it and I can't believe so many people loved it. Guess I'm just a murder, mystery kind of girl.
This was a really interesting one to read after the Hummingbird's Daughter ... the Mexican characters are highly engaging and well developed, but the white Americans are a bit stock. Regardless, this is book is absolutely worth reading just to get a better understanding of the horror and hopelessness of trying to climb out of abject poverty.... it's very sobering.