BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Big Familia by Tomas Moniz [in Shelf Awareness]

For readers in search of a tautly streamlined, deeply resonating, contemporary family story, Big Familia by Tomas Moniz (Bellies and Buffalos) won’t disappoint. In this short novel, Juan Gutiérrez is a longtime Berkeley resident, the amicably divorced father to high school senior Stella and a self-described Chicano – although his best friend tells him that Chicanx is more appropriate. Juan works from home, building websites. His apartment has stayed the same for almost two decades, while his neighborhood is replacing chain-link fences with reclaimed wooden ones and his local dive bar is morphing into a karaoke hot spot.

Recently, Juan’s taken up biking over driving because he really enjoys the two wheels – not because his belly might be growing. He’s not quite sure if his lover, Jared, for all his easy style and warm acceptance, is truly the one. Besides, Juan has his reliable regulars he sees Tuesdays and Thursdays down the street at Nicks. But when the oldest member of his drinking crew dies, Juan begins to realize that maybe, after all these years, he doesn’t really know the people he’s spending time with. Suddenly alone when Stella heads South for college, Juan’s about to find out that the changes around him might mean he, too, will need to make a few adaptations and adjustments.

Without ignoring societal ills – racially charged police violence, incarceration bias, aggressive gentrification, generation gaps – Moniz creates a broadly diverse cast on the verge of transformation. Testing options, pushing past comfort zones, and welcoming new bonds result in a big familia well worth getting to know.

Discover: In Tomas Moniz’s engaging novel, not-yet-40 single father Juan Gutiérrez seeks to reconfigure his life and reconnect with those around him amid substantial change.

Review: “Fiction,” Shelf Awareness, December 20, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2019


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