Reviews for Dominicana: A Novel

by Angie Cruz

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Cruz masterfully provides insight into the 1960s Dominican immigration to the U.S. through the experiences of her 15-year-old protagonist, Ana Canción. The vivid descriptions of the pressures Ana endures at home set the context for her expedient marriage to the much older Juan Ruiz, who will enable her family to move to New York City. Cruz is consistently strong in her characterization and treats everyone from the desperately ambitious Mama to the conflicted Juan with empathy, while Ana is her crowning achievement as she emerges from girlhood to become a resolute and focused young woman. Sensual and fearful of sin, Ana struggles to choose between obligation and love, her husband and his younger brother. This is not an immigrant tale about magically achieving the American dream or any other successes; instead it captures the gritty reality of starting out in a new land with no real footholds. In Ana's fierce dreams for her child, and Juan's tender hopes for the next generation, Cruz creates an unforgettable portrayal of immigrant motivation. Cruz's ability to create mood and atmosphere with her distinctive writing style make her a strong voice in Dominican American literature.--Shoba Viswanathan Copyright 2010 Booklist


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Ana Cancin is 15 when her parents marry her off to 32-year-old Juan Ruiz as part of a business arrangement, and she leaves her family farm in the Dominican Republic to move to New York City.In this coming-to-America story, the harsh realities of immigration are laid bare, but equally clear are the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who choose to make a new life far from home. It's the early 1960s, and there is tumult in the U.S. and abroadthe Vietnam War is raging, and the D.R. plunges into chaos when dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated. Author Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee, 2006, etc.) based the book on her own mother's experiences, and Ana's narration is wry and absorbing. Once Ana has arrived at her new apartment in Washington Heights, Juan proves himself to be a lousy husband, at best demanding and at worst abusive. At first, Ana's days are a bleak litany of chores and unwanted sex. But slowly, her life in New York begins to broaden, especially when Juan travels back to the D.R. on an extended business trip. By now, Ana is pregnant, but with Juan away, she is free to take English classes from the nuns across the street and scheme up ways to earn her own money, selling fried pastelitos with the help of her brother-in-law, Csar. Csar is younger than Juan, more fun than his brother, and kinder, too. Csar reminds Ana that joy existsand that it can be hersas when he surprises her with her first hot dog at Coney Island. Ultimately, though, Ana is her own strength and salvation. As she tells her ill-fated brother, Yohnny, before she leaves for New York, "I don't need anyone to save me."A moving, sad, and sometimes disarmingly funny take on migration and the forces that propel us into the world. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The demands and expectations of family are an overpowering force in this enthralling story about Dominican immigrants in the mid-1960s from Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee). Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion, living in the Dominican countryside, becomes Ana Ruiz when she bends to her mother’s pressure and marries the brutish 32-year-old Juan, who has recently emigrated to America and is scratching out a living in New York. Juan and his brothers intend to build a restaurant on the Cancion family land back in the Dominican Republic, and part of the plan is for the brothers to first raise money by working in New York. When Juan brings Ana to the city, she’s overwhelmed, learning hard lessons about the locals and her husband—who’s abusive until Ana becomes pregnant—and she grows closer to Juan’s younger brother, Cesar. Ana comes of age while the Vietnam War protests surge around her in New York, and when the brewing conflict in the Dominican Republic erupts, Ana becomes determined to earn her own money and bring her mother and siblings to the relative safety of the States. The intimate workings of Ana’s mind are sometimes childlike and sometimes tortured, and her growth and gradually blooming wisdom is described with a raw, expressive voice. Cruz’s winning novel will linger in the reader’s mind long after the close of the story. (Sept.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Cruz masterfully provides insight into the 1960s Dominican immigration to the U.S. through the experiences of her 15-year-old protagonist, Ana Canción. The vivid descriptions of the pressures Ana endures at home set the context for her expedient marriage to the much older Juan Ruiz, who will enable her family to move to New York City. Cruz is consistently strong in her characterization and treats everyone from the desperately ambitious Mama to the conflicted Juan with empathy, while Ana is her crowning achievement as she emerges from girlhood to become a resolute and focused young woman. Sensual and fearful of sin, Ana struggles to choose between obligation and love, her husband and his younger brother. This is not an immigrant tale about magically achieving the American dream or any other successes; instead it captures the gritty reality of starting out in a new land with no real footholds. In Ana's fierce dreams for her child, and Juan's tender hopes for the next generation, Cruz creates an unforgettable portrayal of immigrant motivation. Cruz's ability to create mood and atmosphere with her distinctive writing style make her a strong voice in Dominican American literature.--Shoba Viswanathan Copyright 2010 Booklist


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Ana Cancin is 15 when her parents marry her off to 32-year-old Juan Ruiz as part of a business arrangement, and she leaves her family farm in the Dominican Republic to move to New York City.In this coming-to-America story, the harsh realities of immigration are laid bare, but equally clear are the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who choose to make a new life far from home. It's the early 1960s, and there is tumult in the U.S. and abroadthe Vietnam War is raging, and the D.R. plunges into chaos when dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated. Author Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee, 2006, etc.) based the book on her own mother's experiences, and Ana's narration is wry and absorbing. Once Ana has arrived at her new apartment in Washington Heights, Juan proves himself to be a lousy husband, at best demanding and at worst abusive. At first, Ana's days are a bleak litany of chores and unwanted sex. But slowly, her life in New York begins to broaden, especially when Juan travels back to the D.R. on an extended business trip. By now, Ana is pregnant, but with Juan away, she is free to take English classes from the nuns across the street and scheme up ways to earn her own money, selling fried pastelitos with the help of her brother-in-law, Csar. Csar is younger than Juan, more fun than his brother, and kinder, too. Csar reminds Ana that joy existsand that it can be hersas when he surprises her with her first hot dog at Coney Island. Ultimately, though, Ana is her own strength and salvation. As she tells her ill-fated brother, Yohnny, before she leaves for New York, "I don't need anyone to save me."A moving, sad, and sometimes disarmingly funny take on migration and the forces that propel us into the world. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The demands and expectations of family are an overpowering force in this enthralling story about Dominican immigrants in the mid-1960s from Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee). Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion, living in the Dominican countryside, becomes Ana Ruiz when she bends to her mother’s pressure and marries the brutish 32-year-old Juan, who has recently emigrated to America and is scratching out a living in New York. Juan and his brothers intend to build a restaurant on the Cancion family land back in the Dominican Republic, and part of the plan is for the brothers to first raise money by working in New York. When Juan brings Ana to the city, she’s overwhelmed, learning hard lessons about the locals and her husband—who’s abusive until Ana becomes pregnant—and she grows closer to Juan’s younger brother, Cesar. Ana comes of age while the Vietnam War protests surge around her in New York, and when the brewing conflict in the Dominican Republic erupts, Ana becomes determined to earn her own money and bring her mother and siblings to the relative safety of the States. The intimate workings of Ana’s mind are sometimes childlike and sometimes tortured, and her growth and gradually blooming wisdom is described with a raw, expressive voice. Cruz’s winning novel will linger in the reader’s mind long after the close of the story. (Sept.)

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