People and food and immigration

Book of Unknown Americans

What’s it about?
It’s 2007 or early 2008, and Arturo, Alma, and Maribel Rivera have left Mexico to live in Delaware. Maribel had been in an accident a year or so earlier, and she needs to go to a special school. Alma finds that the best place is in Delaware. So they leave their village where they’ve lived all their lives, Arturo has found a job and a company who will sponsor him, all for the betterment of Maribel. They live in a run-down apartment building, full of other Hispanic immigrants. The Book of Unknown Americans is about the Riveras and their neighbors as they live their lives. There is a plot – Mayor is the boy next door who likes Maribel, and there is a bully at school; the market crash happens in 2008 and Arturo loses his job – but it’s mostly about making you see individuals.

Why should you read it?
It’s a lovely little book full of touching vignettes. And it made me SO HUNGRY. All that delicious food described – so much of how people are doing in this story is shown through what they are eating.

But also it’s about reading/telling┬ástories that we don’t often see: poor people, immigrants, working class, brown skin. It’s about showing what’s universal – we all love food and we all love our families and we all work our butts off. Sometimes that breeds more success than others. If you have a few hours, it’s worth it.