Dominicana by Angie Cruz [in Booklist]
“The invisibility of the women, in particular of my community, fueled this desire to write the Dominican experience, the Latinx experience, the immigrant experience, the New York experience,” reveals Angie Cruz in an interview accessible only if you choose audio. Making her narrator debut, fellow Dominican American Coral Peña spends the final 19 minutes sharing beyond-the-page personal stories with Cruz, a bonus well-worth exploring.
Cruz’s latest is indeed personal, inspired by the lives of her mother and grandmother. Her protagonist is 15-year-old Ana, sent by her ambitious mother from her family’s rural Dominican village to New York to join her 32-year-old husband, Juan. Bewildered and isolated, Ana must navigate her new life with utmost care – vigilant against angering her volatile husband. When Juan leaves a pregnant Ana for urgent business back in the DR, she’s finally able to breathe freely, start a free English class, make her own money – and even fall in love.
Peña is Ana – naïve, desperate, blissful, petrified – but she’s just as facile with Ana’s supporting cast, including manipulative Juan, his buoyant brother César, wheedling Mama, and many others. For aural authenticity, Peña doesn’t disappoint.