~The Iguana Tree, Michel Stone
I live in a city that's about fifty percent Mexican, so I was drawn to The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone, a novel about a young family who emigrates from a seaside village in Mexico to America with the dream of a more prosperous life. Published in 2012, this book features chapters which alternate between the points of view of Héctor and Lilia, a young married couple with an infant, Alejandra. Héctor leaves Puerto Isadore first, with the help of coyotes, and although the journey is long and difficult, he arrives in the United States, and finds work and a home in Edisto Island, South Carolina. It seems idyllic to him, although he ardently misses his wife and child. His plan is to work hard and save money for a year to bring them to the United States. But Lilia's world and tranquility implode soon after Héctor's departure, and she's impatient to join her husband in America. When she's offered a chance to leave sooner rather than later, Lilia decides to leave Mexico with her infant daughter, against the wishes of her husband. As Lilia's situation turns ugly and violent, she experiences extreme uncertainty and sacrifices too much in exchange for a chance at a better life in America.
Whatever your beliefs are about illegal immigration, The Iguana Tree will demand your full attention, and break your heart. I don't want to say too much about the plot and spoil it for potential readers, because this book should be read, not merely read about. It's incredibly gripping, gritty, frightening, emotional, and powerful. The characters in this book, especially Héctor, Lilia, Alejandra, Crucita, Miguel, Lucas, and Elizabeth, will remain in your mind, and in your heart. It depicts illegal immigration as a very dangerous undertaking. (I knew it was difficult but I did not imagine that it could be so risky and horrific, a brutal battle for survival.) As I read this short novel, the author made me care deeply about the plight of this family, who only wish for a better life in America, like countless immigrants coming here, armed only with hope. It's a riveting book, which I cannot praise enough. The writing is lucid and beautiful. I've just finished reading The Iguana Tree, and I want to read it again, already. This novel has the makings of a classic. Michel Stone is a brilliant contemporary writer, and I truly look forward to reading her next book.
Wonderful news! Hub City Press is generously offering a copy of The Iguana Tree as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only) to a lucky reader.
- To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
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Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, May 14. One lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, May 15. Good luck!
Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book. For additional reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC's The Iguana Tree book blog tour.