Tell us about yourself!
I try not to retell a story or give any big spoilers. There is more than enough information in the publisher’s summary to get you into this one.
As the characters develop, it is easy to fall into their basic household routine. Of course there are some tensions, but they seem to be under control. Then one decision by one individual destroys the equilibrium. Like dominoes, things seem to fall one at a time and set off the next disruption. As the story proceeds the characters must adapt and, of course, life will never return to its previous status.
This is very well written and narrated. It is believable, cohesive, and well developed. I would not hesitate to purchase another book by this author and/or narrator.
On a scale of 1-10 it ranks about an 8. The story was never dull, the sentences and descriptions flowed smoothly. There were interesting "hooks" from one chapter to the next.
Nothing comes to mind.
The narrator had the perfect tone for this book.
All the characters are well-developed and the reader is immersed in the characters' situations. I had strong feelings about the major characters, but I rooted for Araceli. Maureen and Scott were just pathetic and I felt sorry for the kids.
The story was believable and a good snapshot of what probably goes on behind the doors of the newly rich and the struggles of a mismatched couple.
It is that rare convergence of talents from both writer and narrator that provides an experience that is greater than the sum of their combined efforts. Certainly Hector Tobar and Frankie J Alvarez have collaborated in producing something this delightful, thought provoking, and emotionally satisfying. Mr. Alvarez’s mastery of both the English and Spanish languages plays a large part in his bringing the author’s character’s voices to life.
That being said, Hector Tobar’s writing alone is more than sufficient to make this one of the best books I’ve read in some time. Through a third person narrator’s voice the author is able to bring the authenticity of his characters’ experiences vividly and forcefully to life. He does this by expertly describing all the components of the novel, other characters, events, settings, etc. By focusing his depictions of these elements and their individual and combined impacts on the five central characters of this story, he matches the power of the first person accounts of some more renowned literary characters.
I don’t believe it is too much to say that Araceli Ramirez will take her place in the pantheon of American literary protagonists, with Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield. But unlike these two who are primarily alone in the center of their stories, Araceli shares the spotlight with the four members her employer family, the Torres-Thompsons.
We are shown through the eyes and emotions of these five characters, the on-going and stratified assimilation of the Mexican migration across the border into American society. With an impressive economy of words Mr. Tobar paints a lavish portrait with broad strokes that imparts a view of the macro impact of this migration on the extant Anglo culture. In the details, he focuses the reader on the impact to individual lives of the everyday events that make up the broader view.
He lets us feel and see a side of Los Angeles through the eyes of eleven-year-old boy with so much credibility that the commuter train ride from the Laguna Niguel station to Union Station will become the Southern California literary tourists’ equivalent to visiting Cannery Row in the Bay Area or standing under the clock in Grand Central Station in New York. The author sets the events of “Barbarian Nurseries” into the Southern California mixture of life styles, economic stratifications, and geographic environs with an authenticity Southern Californians will immediately recognize and others will understand.
The author’s ability to convey understanding is nowhere more apparent than in the ways he uses this story to convey an appreciation of the incentives, beyond economic opportunity, that fuel the migration. He enables us to imagine moving to a society where there exists a law enforcement apparatus that is flawed, but basically honest and transparent; where a judiciary is empowered to free citizens from government oppression; where educational opportunities are not emasculated by corruption; where society has martialed its resources to bring emergency medical response teams rapidly to everyone in need. Mr. Tobar does all this and more by showing us our country through the eyes and emotions of his characters. You will be immersed in their reality.
Just another girl with too many books and not enough time for them all.
This book and the author were completely new to me before I went to the SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association) dinner two years ago. And that night just happened to be the night Héctor Tobar won the 2012 California Book Award gold medal for fiction. So of course I just had to get a signed copy for my collection.
This is a modern novel centered around the Torres-Thompson family. This very well off family has two sons, a great view and three Mexican employees. When the family fiances begin to decline changes are made and that is when the drama begins. This story is set in the upscale city of Orange County but soon becomes a journey through the streets of Los Angeles.
For me the beginning of this book was so slow I had to think about completing it or just adding it to my DNF pile. The family is built of some really non interesting people who only think about race. Race is the main topic and only thing everyone talks about. The White family talks about their Mexican housekeepers strangeness (she is just an artist) and the Mexican housekeeper talks about the odd parenting skills the White family has. They do and to be honest it is not unusual. There are way to many hands-off parents today but that is another discussion all together.
I thought this book had a great story to tell and had an interesting voice in the race discussion between Mexican employees and their White employers. I just didn't like the shallowness of the characters. It seemed to me not one single adult had any kind of connection to another character. The parents up and left their kids without really being concerned about them. The housekeeper was not into taking care of any kids (hers or otherwise). No one in the book had any kind of real relationship with a spouse, friend or family member. No one. It just made the book feel kinda sterile for me and that is not good. I was so hoping for something deeper.
Without spoiling anything for you, there is a relationship in the end. It's a budding new one and I think it is not about the people but more about the destination.
Once I realized what was going on I really enjoyed this book. It was somewhat confusing in the beginning because it is from the point of view of a Mexican maid who herself is not sure what is going on. I really loved the narrator of this book.
It showed nicely how each person lives in their own world and really has no idea of the others around him. Reading this one must think "How can anyone or a group of people be so stupid. What about communication?????
However, I actually have seen such stupidity around me in real life.
was quite entertaining
they where all excellent
I think it needs a different title. As far as a follow up ??? follow two different stories, the family and the housekeeper? Could be interesting.
Where did the House keeper end up???????
Hector nailed this story about the taciturn, but extremely competent housekeeper, Ariceli, from Mexico who had worked hard to keep the house clean for her Orange County employers who had a penchant to overspend, which finally caused the camel's back to break. The lives of the Torres-Thompsons Family and their mistakes along with the wrong-decisions made for the right reasons by their housekeeper-pushed-nanny made a lot of changes in both their lives. Listened to it a lot which is the same as can't put it down.. Reader was excellent too. Reminded me a little of some of T.C Boyles' books like Tortilla Curtain. Good book.
My favorite character, of course, was Ariceli.
His ability to smoothly transition from the Spanish used to the English. The steady speed of the words and not over-emoting.
It's not literature, but it is a story about illegals who often go unfeatured in books today, though they are talked about constantly in the political world of the news.
I loved the moments when Maureen, Scott and Araceli can see the mistakes they have made and instead of becoming more intractable and entrenched in their personal narrative, grow in understanding.
He has a fresh voice that is not overwrought or overly dramatic. Sometimes the narrator can take away from the book by being too obviously. Frankie let the story be the star, while portraying the thoughts and insights of each of the characters.
Maureen. She was like a million women I know and wouldn't necessarily warm to. I find her self-containment and love for perfection exhausting and thought she was the most interesting character.
Yes. I actually think this is a very good book for a Chicano Studies course because it's extremely realistic. Like another reviewer mentioned here, it talks about significant themes such as immigration, class/labor, race/ethnicity, and life of Latinos in California. Being from Los Angeles myself, I think the author tells an accurate story that describes all of these important themes. I love how descriptive he is of each character and their background. That's why the book is so lengthy, but I think it actually makes you appreciate the story that much more because of this. The narrator is excellent and does a good job with characters' voices--one of the best I've heard on here. I wish all audible books had a great narrator like Alvarez. I really enjoyed this book and appreciate the insight it has to offer to readers/listeners.
When the small truths unravel in the story, you can't help but to find the humor in it and smile/laugh at yourself.
I really wanted the protagonist (the live-in housekeeper, Araceli) to confront her employers. Sorry, if this was giving too much away, but I was seriously just waiting for that to happen in order for me to be satisfied with her justice.
Yes, I have, especially to my sister-in-law and daughter who, like me, loved "Tortilla Curtain" by T.C. Boyle. It's a different writing style, with somewhat less "pathos", but just as powerful.
I think that I didn't realize Arecelli was going to be so central when I started, but her character development was wonderful and she grew to be one of my most memorable recent characters. The lack of understanding, and misunderstanding, between cultures really stood out and will change the way I look at "the other".
Just very well done.
I don't think I'd be ready for dinner with any of them, although I basically liked all of the main characters. Another great aspect of this story was that none of the main characters were "bad people" or unlikeable people.