Monday, September 9, 2019

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

43263696. sy475
1 Star

In the heights
I flip the lights and start my day
There are fights

And endless debts

And bills to pay

I’m so disappointed that I found this to be disappointing, but sadly that’s the case. As you can see from above, this story reminded me a bit of another that was already done – and better . . . .

And before anyone jumps my ass and tells me these stories aren’t alike at all and . . . .

I realize that it may seem like a bit of apples and oranges – so let me explain. The problem with Dominicana is there is not much to it. Told from the perspective of 15-year old Ana who has been (smuggled, pretty much) into America by a “husband” twice her age, you only get to know what she knows and/or understands which translates into some pretty flat characters. Ana’s life mainly consists of the small apartment where she and Juan live and when monumental historical events (i.e., Malcolm X’s assassination) conveniently happen literally outside of her door she’s oblivious to their significance (which make them seem thrown in just to remind readers that this is an attempt at being a “historical” novel). Juan, the kidnapper/husband (depending on your viewpoint, I guess) has a job, is able to send money back to the DR and invests in property acquisition/building development with his brothers, but no details are given regarding anything. The story development would lead you to believe this arranged marriage was organized in order to benefit Juan’s family, yet he holds up his end of the bargain (spoiler here so watch out (view spoiler)). Why? Because family? I don’t buy it. Not from a rapey drunken abuser. Oh, and that’s another thing. Way to perpetuate racial stereotypes there. FFS, are authors today incapable of writing hardworking immigrant men? It’s like a damn dead horse being beaten. What else can I slam? Oh yeah, the writing is bizarre (I seriously thought this was a YA novel for a giant chunk), the school of Cormac McCarthy has been followed when it comes to the non-usage of quotation marks and the ending is pretty much unbelievable (again spoilsies: (view spoiler) Yeah right).

So where does In the Heights come in? Well, not only is it set in the same neighborhood, but it does explain all of things Dominicana does not. You get to know where the characters came from originally and how they ended up in The Heights and you know their hopes and dreams and goals and who they love and why they love them and how important family truly is (whether via birth or simply association). Not to mention they are like the majority of immigrants who are hard-working and not women trying to have an anchor baby as soon as they set foot in the country or men who are all wife beaters! It is well written (by a TEENAGER, no less) and also????? It has songs I can drive my family crazy singing all the time . . . .

That right there is called a bonus.

I might recommend Dominicana to a high schooler looking for some diversity in their reading repertoire, but I don’t know if (m)any of my Goodreads friends would dig it. I’d be interested to see their take.

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