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The Tortilla Curtain | [T. Coraghessan Boyle]

The Tortilla Curtain

PEN-Faulkner Award-winning author T. Coraghessan Boyle weaves together the stories of two families in Southern California: one affluent, the other destitute. As Boyle creates a counterpoint of personal needs, civic responsibility, and social custom, each family's quest for the American Dream fuels deep fear and anger that ultimately lead to a perilous confrontation.
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Publisher's Summary

PEN-Faulkner Award-winning author T. Coraghessan Boyle weaves together the stories of two families in Southern California: one affluent, the other destitute. As Boyle creates a counterpoint of personal needs, civic responsibility, and social custom, each family's quest for the American Dream fuels deep fear and anger that ultimately lead to a perilous confrontation.

©1995 T. Coraghessan Boyle; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"This highly engaging story subtly plays on our consciences, forcing us to form, confirm, or dispute social, political, and moral viewpoints. This is a profound and tragic tale, one that exposes not only a failed American Dream, but a failing America." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (127 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
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3 star
 (29)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.7 (51 )
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Story
3.9 (49 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Donald Stratford, PE, Canada 05-14-04
    Donald Stratford, PE, Canada 05-14-04 Member Since 2002

    stephens1414

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    "The Tortilla Curtain"

    A book that challenges social conscience.
    An illegal immigrant and his young pregnant wife strive to survive while staying invisible in a wealthy southern California. They interact with other immigrants, unscrupulous and sometimes predatory employers, the authorities, and the wealthy citizens of the area. We see how one of these citizens, who at the onset is a supporter of America as being a land of opportunity for all, by the end sees the squatters as the cause of problems complicating his family's life and damaging the ecology of their land. Its possible to sympathize with both sides and realize there is not a simple answer..

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 03-16-04
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 03-16-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    191
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    "Excellent!"

    A tortured and passionate story of illegal immigrants and California natives, fear and naivete, hope and hate. This could have been written at any time in the past fifty years, and would be as relevant as it was when it was published. The characters are rich and I felt for them with every turn of the story. Despite the series of misfortunes that befall the characters, the author manages to end the book on a hopeful note, which made me smile. This is a great listen for all ages.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rena Alisa Los Gatos, CA, US 03-19-14
    Rena Alisa Los Gatos, CA, US 03-19-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Dark Reality of Illegal Immigration"

    This book has Stayed with me many months after listening to it. The characters are real people for me. Their trials and adventures are real. I was born and raised in the area where this book is set. Although it is a work of fiction, every detail is vividly correct. The environment is one of the characters. I know this setting and now I know the inner lives of the people in this book. I do not look at day workers or the ongoing debates about immigration the same way since listening to The Tortilla Curtain. This is a fascinating and beautifully crafted story and a major commentary on an ongoing problem. I highly recommend this book for pleasure and for enlightenment..

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Lake Linden , MI, USA 06-19-04
    Cynthia Lake Linden , MI, USA 06-19-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "really drags"

    Learning how the immigrants survive is interesting. But as an audiobook this really drags. I prefer unabridged audiobooks but abridgement is needed to make this book tolerable. The social theme of contrast between comfortable life of residents vs desperate life of the immigrants is hammered way, way beyond what is needed. We get it already, let the events speak for themselves. The internal dialog of the characters is tedious. Also, there are too many descriptions, many of which are not at all of interest. Avoid this audiobook.

    8 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Baumgartner 05-20-14 Member Since 2002
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good Story bad Performance"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No I wouldn't. The narrator was not good.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story was good. The life of undocumented workers shows how terrible people and their hatred of people because of race can affect how they are treated. The story shows just how both sides can be as bad as the other.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Barbara Rosenblat?

    Anyone else.


    Did The Tortilla Curtain inspire you to do anything?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    The fact that the narrator keeps taking loud breaths throughout the story was very distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gilbert 05-14-14
    Gilbert 05-14-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Emotionally disturbing"
    Would you try another book from T. Coraghessan Boyle and/or Barbara Rosenblat?

    Not if the writing style is the same as this book. The details are vivid and colorful, but the premise is disturbing and short sighted.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'll go back to informational as well as history based books.


    Do you think The Tortilla Curtain needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I don't see how they could interface the characters to show how they have improved and grown into the new world. without using the religion that they had in the old world to guide them, or the common sense that abounds in all of us after traumatic events, the story could not flow or connect to the point of being believable after this book...


    Any additional comments?

    Although the events are very believable, the 'dumbing down' of the main mexican characters was offensive as well as unfair. after the trauma at the border the first time, they would have learned to be wary of personal encounters as well as using the systems available to them through the church or local outreach programs. to set them so low in the social intelligence ranking is insulting as well as unbelievable. It is asking us to release too much of what we are to connect to the main protagonists. It's like watching a movie made by someone who has no idea how to cast actors...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carla Eureka, CA, United States 12-12-13
    carla Eureka, CA, United States 12-12-13
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    3
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    Story
    "The Tortilla Curtain: Sadly, a Timeless Theme"
    Any additional comments?

    TC Boyle is a master at demonstrating the pathos and struggle of everyday life. The Tortilla Curtain is definitely an unvarnished look at the great gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Despite Boyle having written this book nearly 20 years ago, the story is perhaps even more pertinent in 2013. The narrative is compelling in the way a Steinbeck story compels--one hopes against hope for some bright outcome, despite all signs pointing to tragedy. The narration is a seamless fit with the author's work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry 11-19-12
    Terry 11-19-12
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    2
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    Story
    "A great reader for an interesting story"

    The reader was amazing and brought the story to life. An interesting look at the life of some Mexicans in California.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Blaine 07-16-05
    S. Blaine 07-16-05 Member Since 2001

    sblaine

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Endless"

    Sometimes the difference between a good book and a great book is the ending. This book didn't have one.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie corona, CA, USA 11-29-04
    Laurie corona, CA, USA 11-29-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Annoying !"

    The woman who reads this book was annoying to listen to -- to say the least. I could hear her continually swallowing and making various smacking sounds. I found myself thinking about how I couldn't stand to listen to her (but had to because it was for a class reading assignment) more than listening to the story. Appears author used his thesaurus frequently also annoying... you'll understand when you start listening. Wouldn't recommend to anyone.

    4 of 11 people found this review helpful
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