What she reads: Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Readers have become enthralled with Dominicana by Angie Cruz and it’s easy to see why. This story has touched so many folks in different ways, shoring up the many ways we think about love, family and immigration. Recently a Good Morning America book club pick, Angie Cruz’s third novel Dominicana brims with the tenacity, resilience and beauty of a young immigrant girl’s coming-of-age story in the ’60s.

When 15-year-old Ana Cancion finally came to terms with the life her mother wanted for her – get married to Juan Ruiz, a man twice her age, move to New York away from the Dominican countryside she grew up in, and be her family’s beacon for a better life – she knew she needed to take her mother’s advice to heart and carve it heavily on her chest. 

When political turmoil sends her husband back to the Dominican Republic, Ana is left alone in the care of Juan’s free-spirited brother Cesar. At a time when everything she held dear was suddenly in disarray – Juan’s momentary departure, the safety of her family back home and the vulnerability that came with her pregnancy – it was as if light came through the cracks and Ana could finally breathe.

Far from the impositions of being Juan’s wife and her obligations as a daughter, Ana found the freedom to finally be herself, whether that’s pursuing her education or just simply going out to dance. Being with Cesar opened up her world and made her believe that she could pave her own path. But by the time Juan returns home to New York, Ana is still his wife and her mother’s daughter and she’ll have to choose the life she wants to live.

I have been absolutely enthralled with this book. Here are a few of my favorite posts:

@reinadelsueno

“Love reading Dominicana by @WriterCruz, one of my favorite writers since her debut, Soledad. And now she’s back at the perfect time with Dominicana, a powerful novel about 15-year-old Ana Cancion, who moves to New York City from the Dominican Republic in 1965 after she’s married to a man twice her age. It’s an important story about immigration, coming of age and finding your voice in the world.”


@readingmaria

“My new favorite book of 2019… I LOVE this book. The writing style did take me a few pages to get used to (there’s dialogue, but no quotation marks), but once I did, wow. The writing is so poetic, and easily draws you into the lives of Ana, Cesar, Juan… everyone! No matter how shady the characters may seem, you still find yourself trying to learn as much as you can about them.”


@aquietnook

“My favorite part of this book is the perspective from which it’s written. About immigration, love and family, Dominicana features a kind of female protagonist we don’t often see centered in immigration narratives… ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The kind who immigrates to the U.S. and stays cooped up at home. She stays at home because she is afraid of her husband and this new country… a fear exacerbated by the unknown and her lack of English and lack of papers.”


@longdistancebooknerds

“⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5 stars. I’d been dying to read this book since I first heard about it a few months ago! The book description reminds me so much of my parents: immigrating from another country to the U.S. to find better jobs and give their children and family a better life. This book struck so many chords with me.
Another heart-wrenching novel about strong female characters and reckless love! I loved this book and couldn’t put it down.”

@readwithjamie

“Loved embracing Ana’s powerful story of immigration and coming of age. If you decide to listen to the audiobook too, be sure and stick around for the interview at the end when @writercruz discusses people of color’s representation in books. ❤️🇩🇴⁣”


@readsandiread

“⁣This book was powerful, it broke my heart many times, too many times. The characters were all so nuanced and complex that I could hate them and feel for them at the same time. ⁣At the end of the audio there was an interview with Angie Cruz and she talked about how the inspiration for the book was her own mother. That Ana’s story is loosely based on her mother who also came to the states as a young 15-year-old wife. I am so grateful for literature that helps gain empathy and understanding for these life experiences that are so different than my own. I never thought of the ability or right to fall in love as a privilege, and yet this book highlights that it is just that. ⁣”

Have you read Dominicana? Tell us in the comments below!

Pia Cortez

Contributing Editor

Pia Cortez is a writer and a book blogger based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the creator and curator of the book blog Libromance, where she publishes book reviews and other literary features with a queer, Filipino immigrant perspective. She is currently a contributor for Lambda Literary, New Life Quarterly, Positively Filipino and Hella Pinay. When she’s not writing, reading or reviewing books, she’s working on Booklook, a project on the intersection of literature and fashion. You can also find Pia surfing in Pacifica, or somewhere in the Bay on the hunt for the next best Filipino fusion food.

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