I picked up this new novel by Angie Cruz because a little bird told me that Jeanine Cummins recommended it. That was enough for me. After all, Jeanine is the author of AMERICAN DIRT which pubs in January. I am a huge fan!!
DOMINICANA begins in The Dominican Republic in the 1960’s when fifteen-year-old Ana Canción marries Juan Ruiz who is thirty-two. Really, how can this happen? Well, she is doing it to get her family out of the Dominican Republic and into a safer life with opportunity. It’s truly a sacrifice.
Once Ana is installed in a cold sixth-floor walk-up in Washington Heights in NYC she begins her new life which is full of chores, loneliness and sexual advances from her now abusive husband. Ana’s life in America sucks. She feels so desperately unhappy and begins plans to escape back to her old life in The Dominican Republic.
The only light that shines is that Juan’s brother, Cesar, has arrived on the scene. He is the opposite of Juan, thank God. He’s lighthearted and begins to give Ana hope for a better life. He persuades her to stay and try to make it work. When Juan has to return to the Dominican on business he leaves Cesar in charge of Ana. And everything changes, for the best. The reins have loosened and Ana takes classes to learn English, goes dancing, to the movies, and discovers that she has feelings for Cesar. Of course she would. He’s kind and fun-loving and young and handsome.
As we struggle with immigration issues right this moment throughout this country and the world, this is what immigration looked like in the sixties. The loneliness Ana experiences in NYC is palpable. She is doing what she had to for her family. That is the story of so many immigrants. It’s about family matters.
A lot of politics were deeply in play during this time period. The Vietnam War was raging and there were so many demonstrations against it. And, in Dominican Republic, the Dictator, Rafael Trujillo was assassinated causing rioting and unrest throughout the country. This all fuels the fires.
As Ana begins making her own money the story carefully turns. She becomes more confident and actually begins to settle into her new environment. I love the strong woman Ana becomes. One of the best characters to come down the pike in a long time. And I was very happy with the ending.
We will have copies of DOMINICANA at Copperfish Books. They are discounted 20%. Cathy and I loved this story and we are going to be thrilled to hand-sell it!
My review copy of DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz was provided by Flatiron Books through Copperfish Books. What a pleasant surprise! I loved it.