Review: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Dominicana: A Novel
Author: Angie Cruz
Published: 2019 (Flatiron Books, New York)
Genres: Literary Fiction, Historical, Coming-of-Age, Latinx
*Disclaimers: Book contains sexual content and domestic violence
I have two reviews in one week, since I read this last one in 3 days! Surgery recovery has left me with a lot less to do. Yesterday I finished reading the coming-of-age, American Dream novel, Dominicana by Angie Cruz. I started this book on the Fourth of July holiday, while resting up from my surgery. This explains the plastic, festive star necklaces in the picture above. But considering the Fourth of July holiday reminds me that the US was built by immigrants, I thought it was an appropriate time to start reading a novel about a young girl from the Dominican Republic coming to the US. Plus this book has been on my TBR list for awhile.
“Dreaming is good to do when you’re sleeping. But as long as we’re awake, nobody wants to go hungry” – Angie Cruz, Dominicana
Dominicana was a charming novel filled with dynamic characters and a vividly told story. Taking place in 1965, the story centers on Ana Canción, a 15-year-old girl who marries a man named Juan Ruiz, who is twice Ana’s age, in order to come to America and start a new life. Living in New York soon becomes a struggle as Ana adjusts to a new country very much unlike her own. And being kept to her apartment in Washington Heights by her controlling husband does not help either. After Juan leaves to go to the Dominican Republic to protect his family’s assets during political upheaval, Ana begins to experience a freer way of living in her new country when she starts spending time with Juan’s younger brother César, and is left with choices she was not prepared to make.
“In New York I’ll have a closet full of dresses and jewelry. All kinds of purses and shoes. And Juan will pay for me to go to the salon every week and get my nails done. And he’ll take me to see shows and we’ll go dancing with live bands. And our house will be full of his friends and family. Every day will feel like a party” – Angie Cruz, Dominicana
I loved this book! Maybe that is why I read this one in 3 days. The story had me hooked as soon as I started reading. The book acutely shows what being an immigrant in the US is like through Ana’s eyes and dreams. I loved Ana’s character, along with her vulnerability shown through her actions and inner thoughts. The author, Angie Cruz, based the novel off her mother’s story. In the Acknowledgements section of the book, Cruz talks about the research done to accurately represent the Washington Heights’ Dominican community and immigration stories, which only makes this novel better. I was hooked on Cruz’s writing style, which is easy to digest and straightforward, but also full of figurative details about each character and scene.
“A man doesn’t know what he thinks until a woman makes him think it” – Angie Cruz, Dominicana
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a historical fiction novel centered around a wonderful US immigration tale and coming-of-age story. Through tales of family and discovery, Cruz transports the reader into Ana’s tumultuous and eye-opening story. I did not have many complaints about this one, and I almost gave it 5 stars (which I never do, if you follow my blog). The only downside is that this was not the most overwhelming or capturing story ever read, and felt some details could have been better resolved. But this should not sway you, reader, from taking a chance on this book!
I give this book a 4 out of 5!