A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Let’s not delude ourselves that immigrants in America have ever had it easy. Set in the ’60s, Angie Cruz’s novel tells the story of 15-year-old Ana Cancion, who—desperate to leave the Dominican Republic—makes what turns out to be a deal with the devil. Ana gets to the States, but her situation is miserable. When chance gives her a sip of the American good life, it’s bittersweet—her happiness and her loyalties are at odds. With gentle compassion and wisdom, Cruz asks us to contemplate the bravery and sacrifices of people chasing the proverbial dream. We capital-L Loved Dominicana.
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.
Well written, suspenseful and insightful. I enjoyed seeing the world from Ana’s perspective. A welcome addition to my world view.
I loved it! Coming from an immigrant family and relating back to much of what she wrote was a fresh breath of air. My sorority sisters and I chose this as our book club book and has rich discussions and questions about it throughout the weeks reading it. Love it!