Rating: 4 / 5
I am new to the world of BOTM, but I am enjoying it so far. One of my early selections was DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz because I had heard several rave reviews and I knew some friends were going to be buddy reading it in October.
DOMINICANA begins in the Dominican Republic. Ana Cancion is a 15 year old girl from a poor family so when Juan Ruiz proposes and offers to take her to America, her family pressures her to say yes. For her the prospect is daunting, but for her family it is the hope that she’ll be able to help them come to America as well and make a better life.
When Ana arrives in New York with her new husband, her life is very limited. She knows no English and she lives in a run down six-floor walk-up. She is miserable in her new life with a husband who mistreats her. She wants to run away, but her options are limited. With her home country in political turmoil, Juan must go back to see to his family’s business and Ana finally gets some tastes of freedom, though it isn’t without restrictions. With the support of Juan’s brother she begins to push her boundaries and dream of a new life.
This book started a bit slow for me, but within about 50 pages or so I was hooked. I felt for poor Ana and her sense of isolation. She has no one she can turn to aside from Juan’s family and even that is less than ideal. I can’t imagine going to a new country where the language and the people are entirely unknown. While Juan is at work, Ana has very little to occupy her time apart from dreaming of how things could be different.
This book was beautifully written, though not always easy to read. I appreciated the glimpses the author gave of New York outside, what Ana is able to pick up from conversations and from her window overlooking the city. Ana’s character development over the span of the book is amazing from a 15 year old who has no ability to stand up for herself to a strong woman who will have a say in her future. I felt a bit let down at the ending, though I feel it was likely true to the situation.
DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz is a book that I would absolutely recommend!