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Dominicana
2019
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The award-winning author of Soledad draws on her mother’s story in a tale set in a turbulent 1960s Dominican Republic, where a young teen agrees to marry a man twice her age to help her family’s immigration to America. - (Baker & Taylor)

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Shortlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction

“Through a novel with so much depth, beauty, and grace, we, like Ana, are forever changed.” —Jacqueline Woodson, Vanity Fair

“Gorgeous writing, gorgeous story.”
—Sandra Cisneros

Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz's Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

Angie Cruz is the author of the novels Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee, a finalist in 2007 for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She has published work in The New York Times, VQR, Gulf Coast Literary Journal, and other publications, and has received fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony. She is founder and editor in chief of Aster(ix), a literary and arts journal, and is an associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. - (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Cruz masterfully provides insight into the 1960s Dominican immigration to the U.S. through the experiences of her 15-year-old protagonist, Ana Canción. The vivid descriptions of the pressures Ana endures at home set the context for her expedient marriage to the much older Juan Ruiz, who will enable her family to move to New York City. Cruz is consistently strong in her characterization and treats everyone from the desperately ambitious Mama to the conflicted Juan with empathy, while Ana is her crowning achievement as she emerges from girlhood to become a resolute and focused young woman. Sensual and fearful of sin, Ana struggles to choose between obligation and love, her husband and his younger brother. This is not an immigrant tale about magically achieving the American dream or any other successes; instead it captures the gritty reality of starting out in a new land with no real footholds. In Ana's fierce dreams for her child, and Juan's tender hopes for the next generation, Cruz creates an unforgettable portrayal of immigrant motivation. Cruz's ability to create mood and atmosphere with her distinctive writing style make her a strong voice in Dominican American literature. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews

Dominicana

Ana Canción is only 15 when her parents convince her to marry Juan Ruiz, a man twice her age whom she barely knows, and move with him from their home in the Dominican Republic to New York City. They hope she will be able to get a job and that she and Juan will eventually save enough to send for the rest of Ana's family to join them.

Ana's story, inspired by author Angie Cruz's own mother's experiences, is undoubtedly a familiar one. When Ana arrives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC in 1965, she quickly realizes the brutal reality of her new life. Juan is a strict disciplinarian and physically abuses Ana for breaking his many rules. She's rarely allowed out of the sixth-floor apartment they share with Juan's younger brother, César, so she spends her days cleaning, cooking and washing their work clothes by hand.

Ana's dreary life greatly improves when Juan returns to the politically tumultuous Dominican Republic to ensure that the Ruiz family's assets remain safe. With her newfound freedom, Ana begins taking English lessons at a neighborhood church, goes dancing with fun-loving César and even sees a movie at Radio City Music Hall. With César's help, she sells her homemade Dominican delicacies outside his workplace three days a week. She saves every penny, with the ultimate goal of escape, until unexpected family developments threaten to squelch her dream.

In her third novel, Dominicana, Cruz writes with warmth, empathy and remarkable perception about the immigrant experience. Engaging and illuminating, Dominicana will appeal to readers who've enjoyed novels by Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez.

Copyright 2019 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Ana Canción is 15 when her parents marry her off to 32-year-old Juan Ruiz as part of a business arrangement, and she leaves her family farm in the Dominican Republic to move to New York City. In this coming-to-America story, the harsh realities of immigration are laid bare, but equally clear are the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who choose to make a new life far from home. It's the early 1960s, and there is tumult in the U.S. and abroad—the Vietnam War is raging, and the D.R. plunges into chaos when dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated. Author Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee, 2006, etc.) based the book on her own mother's experiences, and Ana's narration is wry and absorbing. Once Ana has arrived at her new apartment in Washington Heights, Juan proves himself to be a lousy husband, at best demanding and at worst abusive. At first, Ana's days are a bleak litany of chores and unwanted sex. But slowly, her life in New York begins to broaden, especially when Juan travels back to the D.R. on an extended business trip. By now, Ana is pregnant, but with Juan away, she is free to take English classes from the nuns across the street and scheme up ways to earn her own money, selling fried pastelitos with the help of her brother-in-law, César. César is younger than Juan, more fun than his brother, and kinder, too. César reminds Ana that joy exists—and that it can be hers—as when he surprises her with her first hot dog at Coney Island. Ultimately, though, Ana is her own strength and salvation. As she tells her ill-fated brother, Yohnny, before she leaves for New York, "I don't need anyone to save me." A moving, sad, and sometimes disarmingly funny take on migration and the forces that propel us into the world. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

LJ Express Reviews

In mesmerizing prose, Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee; Soledad) captures the heartbreaking coming of age of Ana Cancion. Based on Cruz's mother's story, the novel centers on 15-year-old Ana's transactional marriage to the much-older Juan Ruiz and her immigration to the United States from the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, after dictator Rafael Trujillo's assassination. It also provides a window into the changing landscape of Harlem during the time period, as our resourceful young heroine must figure out how to survive New York City's cold winters, her abusive husband, and being thousands of miles away from her family. Flashbacks of her life on the island serve as points of comparison for Ana—the short passages conjure moments of both trauma and bliss. She finds solace (and love) in her brother-in-law's arms and her eventual pregnancy. It's these two things, along with learning English, her beloved faceless "Dominicana" doll, and her burgeoning entrepreneurial skills that help her find her voice. VERDICT This stirring immigration story is Cruz's breakout book; it should be heralded alongside Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.—Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps, NYPL and BPL

Copyright 2019 LJExpress.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

The demands and expectations of family are an overpowering force in this enthralling story about Dominican immigrants in the mid-1960s from Cruz (Let It Rain Coffee). Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion, living in the Dominican countryside, becomes Ana Ruiz when she bends to her mother's pressure and marries the brutish 32-year-old Juan, who has recently emigrated to America and is scratching out a living in New York. Juan and his brothers intend to build a restaurant on the Cancion family land back in the Dominican Republic, and part of the plan is for the brothers to first raise money by working in New York. When Juan brings Ana to the city, she's overwhelmed, learning hard lessons about the locals and her husband—who's abusive until Ana becomes pregnant—and she grows closer to Juan's younger brother, Cesar. Ana comes of age while the Vietnam War protests surge around her in New York, and when the brewing conflict in the Dominican Republic erupts, Ana becomes determined to earn her own money and bring her mother and siblings to the relative safety of the States. The intimate workings of Ana's mind are sometimes childlike and sometimes tortured, and her growth and gradually blooming wisdom is described with a raw, expressive voice. Cruz's winning novel will linger in the reader's mind long after the close of the story. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

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