Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Iguana Tree: Review and Giveaway

"The truck slowed, then stopped, but this time was different. The engine cut, and the silence now frightened Héctor as much as had the deafening roar.  Instinctively the men fell silent, their prayers ceased to be voiced though surely each prayed his hardest now, in silence."
~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. 
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

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.


  1. You always get the most interesting books, Susan!!

  2. The Iguana Tree sounds fascinating. Thanks for the chance.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  3. I follow with GFC.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  4. This book did break my heart. When Hector was coming into the country, I felt claustrophobic - I can't imagine being desperate enough to go through something like that. Your review is fantastic! No need to enter me.

  5. Such a great recommendation, it certainly sounds as if a box of tissues could prove useful when reading this.

  6. This sounds like a must read and a heart wrenching story. Wonderful review.

  7. Oh this sounds to sad, I think I will pass on it. You did a lovely job on the review.

  8. I just recently heard about this book. Thanks for the informative review. Even though it does sound heartbreaking I would still like to read it. I'm a follower and I posted the giveaway in the sidebar of my blog.

  9. This was such a powerful book, and it broke my heart, especially the last 30 pages. I also never really knew just how dangerous the journey from Mexico to America could be, and you are so right when you say that Lila sacrificed too much to get there. Some of the things that happened to her were almost too much for me, and I am usually not that sensitive of a reader. Your review was quite beautiful and really gives readers the flavor and expounds on the tragedy of this book. Great review today!

  10. Every review I read makes me think that this is a must read book. I think it important to understand the dangers and challenges faced by illegal immigrants -- and hopefully something can be done to protect these poor people who are just trying to make a life for themselves and their families.

  11. The story and the writing sound excellent. I've read a similar story of immigration in SoCal, written as a thriller, Illegal by Paul Levine. I recommend it. I'd love to read this one.

  12. Ooooh! I hadn't heard of this one but it definitely sounds interesting. Great review Suko!!

  13. Sounds like this is a book that really makes you think, and that is something I appreciate.

    Thanks for being on the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

    1. I wish there were a "Like" button here (on second thought, maybe I don't; I'd have to go back and click it too many times). Thank you, Heather! Simply put, this is a great novel.

  14. Sounds like a book EVERYONE should read. It would be very educational.

    THANKS for sharing your post and thoughts on this book.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved August Edition. I am in the list as #36. My book entry is below.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry


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