Cristina Henríquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans is a story of immigrants rather than immigration. From the perspectives of different characters, the novel speaks of the experiences of different South American immigrants and how their lives intertwine. The novel explores themes of love, chance, and loss all from the perspective of characters aged fifteen and up.

Even though the stories that the novel explored were all about the immigrants and their families, all of Henríquez’s characters have different personalities making the book an engaging read. Ranging from humor to drama and anxiousness, the book utilizes a variety of tones, giving a sense of relatability to many readers. For example, Mayor has a very casual and relaxed way of expressing himself compared to the distressed Alma. With the variety of characters, the thing that connected their stories is location and the struggles they faced as immigrants in the United States.

The book was well written and the way the plot was set up was intriguing and never let the reader know what was coming next. My only critique would be that the ending felt a little rushed and as though it was cut short. There was a major event that occurred (not to give any spoilers) in the final few chapters but it was almost glossed over and the author explored the effects before detailing the cause. Overall it was a wonderful read all in all and I would highly recommend it.

Review by: Emma Winkler

Emma is a teen volunteer at the Panorama City Branch Library. She attends the Archer School for Girls and is in the 9th grade.

—Philip Levie, Panorama City Branch Library