The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea [in Library Journal]
Despite the title, the Angels here are more damaged than broken, with even a promise of salvation – more than less – by title’s end. Narrated by Luis Alberto Urrea (The Water Museum), who has magnificently recorded most of his audio adaptations, this House comes to life across borders, generations, genders, and ages.
The matriarch of the sprawling de la Cruz family is dead just as her eldest son, Miguel Angel – known as “Big Angel” – is about to celebrate a farewell birthday blowout before he succumbs to terminal cancer. Over the funeral/party double-header weekend, the extended clan gather in San Diego to eulogize and revel in the decades spent as family and strangers, as loved ones and pariahs. Amidst siblings, children, in-laws, nieces, nephews, spouses, and exes arrives Big Angel’s half-brother, Seattle English professor Gabriel Angel. Armed with a notebook to keep track of who’s who, Little Angel will finally figure out his rightful place.
Verdict: Urrea’s outstanding ability to individualize his extensive cast adds yet another enhancing layer to his already spectacular novel.