RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleVargas’ book is...powerful ... But it’s also an engaging read, and a deeply moving memoir of coming of age with the odds stacked against you and not only forging a remarkable life for yourself, but becoming a voice for transformation and cultural change. In short, piercing chapters, Vargas transports us back to his childhood in the Philippines, and the morning his mother rushed him to the airport and said goodbye ... Dear America combines the best of the memoir genre with sociocultural commentary and a fierce commitment to awakening ... He deftly weaves together the personal and the political, and allows us into deeply painful, vulnerable moments that speak to a shared humanity, but also serve a larger story that desperately needs to be heard. He lays bare wrenching intimate details; traces the contours of personal triumphs; invites the reader to consider the facts; and exposes the holes and paradoxes in U.S. racial thinking and histories ... It’s to our great collective benefit that Vargas has brought such voice, uplift and vision to the pages of Dear America, for all to see.
Mauro Javier Cardenas
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleThis is a book at once haunting and haunted, rippling with the ghosts of Latin America’s atrocities, disappointments, colonial strangleholds, insurgencies and fierce hopes, a book at once specific to Ecuador’s historical realities and bursting with significance to our whole hemisphere ... The style of this book is as ambitious as its territory, moving fluidly from voice to voice, from luminous long sentences to syntactical fragmentation. Cardenas, an Ecuadoran now living in San Francisco, has made the Nabokovian move of claiming adoptive English as his own, and he gives us many beautifully eloquent moments ... There are times when the structure of the book strains under the weight of its own ambition, where the language seems to fray. But this flaw is ultimately overshadowed by the novel’s explosive power.
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleReina’s voice is so lucid and nakedly honest that the book is a great pleasure to read, even while it’s breaking your heart. Ultimately, though, The Veins of the Ocean is not interested in leaving the reader in the depth of the characters’ pain, but rather carries us through the pain and beyond it. This, mercifully, is a book as concerned with transforming the human condition as it is with the unflinching examination of its wounds. It takes place in a world full of borders, violence and prison walls, and, also, in a world where the stunning beauty of a wild dolphin can take your breath away and give you the strength to get free.
PositiveSan Francisco ChronicleWith her engaging new novel, The Japanese Lover, Allende brings us a tale at once global and rooted deeply in Bay Area history, sweeping through time and across continents to explore the inner lives of two very different women in contemporary California. At the same time, she offers us a unique narrative meditation on growing old.