"The Book of Unknown Americans," is the 2015 One City, One Story Selection

Published : Thursday, November 20, 2014 | 7:32 PM

Cristina Henriquez (c) Michael Lionstar

Pasadena’s 13th One City, One Story community reading celebration book selection is the novel “The Book of Unknown Americans” by author Cristina Henríquez.

It is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.

Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, “The Book of Unknown Americans” is a work of rare force and originality.

Cristina Henríquez is the author of “The Book of Unknown Americans,” “The World In Half,” and “Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories,” which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and AGNI along with the anthology This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers. Henríquez’s non-fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Oxford American, and Preservation as well as in the anthologies State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America and Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Women Writers Reflect on the Candidate and What Her Campaign Meant.

She was featured in Virginia Quarterly Review as one of “Fiction’s New Luminaries,” has been a guest on National Public Radio, and is a recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, a grant started by Sandra Cisneros in honor of her father. Cristina earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Chicago.

One City, One Story activities and events will be held in March 2015. A community dialogue with the author is scheduled for Thursday, March 12. Details of book discussion groups, film series, and other events will be announced in the near future.

One City, One Story is designed to broaden and deepen an appreciation of reading and literature in the community. To engage participants in dialogue and bring Pasadenans together by promoting greater understanding of differing points of view.

For more information visit www.onecityonestory.com or call (626) 744-7076


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