One thing I love about book clubs is unexpectedly finding some truly incredible reads. I don’t know that I’d ever have picked up this novel if it hadn’t have been the January pick for my library book club, and I left reading it until the eleventh hour.
All I can say is that I’m so glad this story was thrust upon me, I absolutely devoured it and I didn’t want to put it down. A truly stunning portrait of a family struggling to come to terms with an impending loss and learning how to come together in meaningful ways. Luis Alberto Urrea elegantly demonstrates the impact of intergenerational trauma, decades of words left unsaid, complex family dynamics as well as the struggle and pride of immigrant families building a life in a new country. Urrea also does an excellent job interspersing humour and love throughout the tale.
As Big Angel, the family patriarch, comes to terms with his own mortality he also attempts to gather together his splintered family to ensure they will not only endure but prosper in his absence. There is a delightfully large and colourful cast of characters (that even their own family can’t keep track of! Little Angel’s chart at the back of the book is very helpful).
I adore this book; I laughed, I cried, I was blown away. It was a great way to start off my 2021 reading journey.
That is the prize: to realize, at the end, that every minute was worth fighting for with every ounce of blood and fire.
Luis Alberto Urrea