Dominicana by Angie Cruz
“Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up within the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.”
September 3rd, 2019
(I bought my own hard copy from Book of The Month and as it was available early through their August 2019 book selections. You can get your first Book of the Month book for FREE by using my referral link HERE.)
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Fiction & Coming of Age Fiction
Dominicana is a coming of age story that is set in NYC in the turbulent and bustling 1960s. Angie Cruz shares a remarkable story about a young girl named Ana. At 15, Ana was forced to marry a man twice her age and move from the Dominican Republic to America…with her family’s hope, she could achieve the “American Dream”.
Upon her arrival, Ana ends up finding herself isolated from her family and at the mercy of a husband who neither seems to care for her or her needs. While this was a heartbreaking story in many ways, it was also a tale of strength, persistence, and resilience.
I loved that Cruz chose to share this story from the point of view of Ana. While it was very clear she was a teenager in many ways, she has this introspection that made her wise beyond her years. I loved watching her learn how to exert her own independence in difficult situations when the hits just kept on coming. The connection between Ana and her doll Dominicana was just so beautiful and heartbreaking and added so much to the story for me.
This book follows her as blooms both literally and figuratively into the self-assured women she was meant to become. She is able to find joy in the darkest times and I loved the feeling of lightness she was able to find when she spent time with her brother in law. Ana was able to just be without the constraints of other’s expectations or the brutal reality of her marriage to Juan.
This was one of those books that I enjoyed reading but found it even more thought-provoking and powerful once I finished and reflected upon it. I think it would make a wonderful book club selection and I look forward to following more of Angie Cruz’ writing in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced ebook copy of this book.