The Book of Unknown Americans is a realistic fiction novel that depicts the reality for many immigrants throughout the United States. The author of this book, Cristina Henríquez, focuses on the journey of a small family of three, the Riveras. The Rivera family consists of mother Alma, father Arturo and their fifteen-year-old daughter Maribel. The Riveras emigrate from Mexico to seek the best education possible for Maribel, who suffered a traumatic brain injury. The family moves to Newark, Delaware with the hopes that a better education and a fresh start will aid in Maribel’s recovery progress. Arturo begins rigorous work at a mushroom farm, with corrupt management and hazardous conditions. Alma struggles to feel at home without her support system and family nearby, until the Riveras form a new family with fellow immigrants in their apartment complex. A boy in a neighboring apartment forms a life-altering friendship with Maribel that takes a turn as the story progresses. The family persists through language barriers and racism, until a tragic accident occurs that changes everything. This novel will open readers’ eyes to the real challenges and roadblocks that immigrants face in the United States.
Winston Allen & Olivia Bowman, 2019