Cristina Henríquez

Books

The Book of Unknown Americans
2014

A boy and girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Arturo Rivera was the owner of a construction company in Pátzcuaro, México. One day, as his beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, is helping him at a work site, she sustains an injury that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same again. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panamà, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Central and Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.

Suspenseful, funny and warm, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a new American classic.


The World in Half
2009

From the prizewinning author of Come Together, Fall Apart comes a mesmerizingly beautiful first novel about family, home, loss, and forgiveness.

Miraflores has never known her father, and until now, she’s never thought that he wanted to know her. She’s long been aware that her mother had an affair with him while she was stationed with her then husband in Panama, and she’s always assumed that her pregnant mother came back to the United States alone with his consent. But when Miraflores returns to the Chicago suburb where she grew up, to care for her mother at a time of illness, she discovers that her mother and father had a greater love than she ever thought possible, and that her father had wanted her more than she could have imagined.

In secret, Miraflores plots a trip to Panama, in search of the man whose love she hopes can heal her mother—and whose presence she believes can help her find the pieces of her own identity that she thought were irretrievably lost. What she finds is unexpected, exhilarating, and holds the power to change the course of her life completely.

In gorgeous, shimmering prose, Cristina Henríquez delivers a triumphant and heartbreaking first novel: the story of a young woman reconciling an existence between two cultures and confronting a life of hardship with an endless capacity to learn, love, and forgive.


Come Together, Fall Apart
2006

“How does a young writer gather the wisdom, heart, and tenderness to write stories of such exquisite humanity? I can only guess she is an ancient soul, a zen master, a bruja, or all of the above. However it’s done, I bow deeply and welcome this first collection.” -Sandra Cisneros

With eight short stories and a novella that travel from dusty city streets to humid beaches, Cristina Henríquez carves out a distinctive and unforgettable vision of contemporary Panama. The stories of Come Together, Fall Apart combine to create a seamless fictional world in which the varied landscapes and shifting culture of a country in transition—and the insistent voices of its young people—are vividly represented. We meet Henríquez’s gracefully realized narrators as they confront love, death, freedom, and betrayal—always with hope, always with determination, and all the while aware that the past still haunts the present.

In “Yanina,” a young man’s fidelity is tested when a new living situation strains his relationship with his girlfriend. For the young woman in “Ashes,” the very notion of fidelity is shattered—and her lover’s philandering is only one link in a chain of traumatic events that begins with her mother’s death. In “Mercury,” an American girl visits her grandparents in Panama while her parents divorce at home, and attempts to connect with her ailing grandfather in broken Spanish that he’ll never understand. Again and again, characters find their fates irrevocably tied to those of their families—in “Beautiful,” as fortunes rise; and in “Come Together, Fall Apart,” as they collapse.

These are stories of family bonds and generational conflicts, youthful infatuation and genuine passion that are tender, ambitious, and unflinching, from a bold and original young writer who is not only an accomplished prose stylist but also an irresistible storyteller. Come Together, Fall Apart heralds the arrival of a fresh, exciting, and lavishly talented new voice in American literature.


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