Out of the thirty books I read last year, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez was, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. There were certainly contenders in the fiction category including Ghana Must Go and Untamed State, but there was something new and refreshing about The Book of Unknown Americans.
I was enthralled by the characters and appreciated every moment of the seven months of their lives that the book explored. Ms. Henriquez does an amazing job of pulling together the lives of the families who inhabit the same apartment complex in Delaware. Originally from varying Latin American countries, they followed their dreams to pursue a life most of us take for granted. Telling both the simple every day details such as trying to find food in a new country, to exploring the deeper connections between people, The Book of Unknown Americans covers a lot of ground.
The connection between Maribel and Mayor was so tender and honest; the friendships between the mothers so tenuous and awkward; the question of blame and how we forgive ourselves as well as the ones we love is universal and well handled. The story of these characters and their connected lives pulls you along, but leaves you wanting more for them and our country.