The Book Of Unknown America Analysis

Decent Essays

In author Cristina Henriquez’s novel The Book of Unknown Americans, the characterization of Alma Rivera is used to convey how grief and misery is magnified when all that a person had ever known has been taken away for some reason out of their control; it is only when they learn to give up control and forgive themselves, that they overcome the feelings of grief and guilt.
When Alma and her family move to America, they begin their new life in a place that is strange and confusing, one that is unaccommodating, and causes Alma’s misery and guilt to almost overwhelm her. After the Rivera’s first day in America, they find their appartment and try to go to sleep. Arturo and her daughter Maribel fall asleep right away, but Alma lays awake in bed, wondering to herself if they ”had... done the right thing, coming here?” (6). In the morning, they wake up, confused, “bewildered, and disorientated, glancing at one another, darting [their] gazes from wall to wall. And then we remembered. Delaware. Over three thousand kilometers from our home in Pátzuco. Three thousand kilometers and a world away” (6). Alma and Arturo left their home, not because they wanted to come to America, but because they wanted to be able to help their daughter, Maribel. She had an accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, and Alma feels that the accident is her fault, and has been consumed with grief ever since. Although the Riveras came to America to help Maribel, Alma still wonders to herself if it was the

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