The novel The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez is a testament to the trials and hoops immigrants jump through, including everything from sexual assault, the loss of a visa, death, relationships, and treatment that is far from fair.
Maribel has special needs as a result of an accident at Arturo’s workplace. Arturo and Alma blame themselves, as her parents, for letting her fall. What lies ahead of them is the longest, most challenging journey of their lives: moving from Mexico to the United States, and everything that comes with it.
Although dark at times, the masterful way Henríquez works in themes of familial love and acceptance makes this novel an exposure to the incredibly hard lives immigrants to the U.S. can face, and a beautiful coming-of-age story that everyone can see his or herself reflected in. The characters have complex arcs that make them extremely human, to the point where this seems more like a memoir than a work of fiction. The truth of the matter is that many of us aren’t in these situations and can’t imagine how hard the lives these people lead are; however, The Book of Unknown Americans gives readers a window into their lives and show us the privileges many take for granted.