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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    66
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    57
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    45
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    12
  • 1 Stars
    9

Performance

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    51
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    31
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    14
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    4
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    6

Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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..

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good listen

This was a good book to listen to. Gives you a good insight of how life for immigrants were in the 90s

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good read

A very topical book. Very interesting style of writing with correlating narratives. Interesting how you can hate your own culture.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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...

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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