This ambitious and successful book profiles an extended Filipino family inching toward prosperity by laboring out of country for years, migrating to do arduous work in harsh places. It’s the opposite of an instant book; it has been cooking for three decades. The chef has combined, in considered proportion, ingredients gathered around the world—revealing family and work scenes set in the Philippines, Oman and Saudi Arabia, aboard wandering cruise ships and deep in the heart of Texas. And right when we’re hungry for them, he serves up telling social and economic digressions that place the family’s struggles in a political and economic context of global migration ... DeParle has a frank, amiable and plain-spoken virtuosity as a writerA Good Provider Is One Who Leaves deserves a place on the same high shelf as Kate Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers—recent books that enrapture readers with moving narrative while elegantly elucidating deep, humane and informed understandings of poverty and conflict. These books represent the highest and most powerful use of the oft-read but rarely identified genre of narrative journalism.
...[an] indispensable book, a Baedeker to an unnoticed and largely unappreciated global phenomenon, and a guide to understanding not only the flow of people worldwide but also the tensions that infuse politics worldwide. This may be a portrait of Tita’s world, but it is also the portrait of the world today—a world, DeParle shows us, that is in profound transformation as millions seek to better their lives ... In these pages DeParle offers us a brisk history of immigration and immigration policy and wise reflections on contemporary migration ... he’s a historian in seeing the process with a centuries-long perspective...but is a journalist with a reporter’s eye on contemporary events, seeing how corruption, poverty, and violence spur great waves of migration.
The family’s saga is...a page-turner, evidence of DeParle’s compelling writing. And while the book is already dense with several simultaneous narratives, it is not so much a biography of the Comodas as a treatise on global migration ... His reportage, however large a grain a salt one might wish to apply, depicts migration as somewhat of a global phenomenon by focusing on real-life narratives ... riveting, intelligent, and enlightening.
A Good Provider... [adds] geopolitical and historical dimension to current discussions of migration and nationalism, while never straying far from the story of a single family dispersed by the pressure to survive and provide for its members. In the process, DeParle highlights a significant but often overlooked group: migrants who make the journey legally ... The Portaganas’ lives are at once ordinary and extraordinary, laced with as many contradictions as the ancient rite and modern disrupter that is migration itself ... DeParle’s understanding of migration is refreshingly cleareyed and nuanced ... One of the few places where DeParle’s reporting falters is in his explanation of his role in this story ... DeParle invokes many of his own actions and motives with only the briefest of explanations ... By focusing on legal migration, A Good Provider avoids the politicized discussions of children in detention, undocumented farmworkers and the so-called Dreamers...And yet, by delineating the conditions that allow Rosalie and her family to succeed in the United States, DeParle draws a portrait starkly at odds with the experience of the estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants who call this country home, many of whom have lived and worked here much longer.
At times, [DeParle] goes beyond being a journalistic observer ... he deftly alternates between their compelling saga and the broader issues surrounding migration ... DeParle also captures the intense loneliness experienced by migrants, particularly those separated for long stretches from their children ... He forcefully makes the point that there is a difference between the politics of immigration, which are broken, and immigration itself, which is successful in ways that are rarely acknowledged ... In addition to being intelligent and compassionate, A Good Provider is evocatively written ... DeParle...captures so much about global migration: the necessity, the pride, the heartbreak.
Setting the family’s story within the political and social context of twentieth- and twenty-first-century immigration, the author explores the Philippine government’s commitment to Overseas Filipino Workers, hailed as heroes for the nation’s economy. He also dives into the personal strains caused by leaving, such as long separations from spouses and children, shifting gender dynamics, and culture changes. This is a remarkably intimate look at migration’s impact on both a single family and the global community.
...[a] captivating story ... DeParle excels in both intimate details and sweeping scale, showing how the Comodases’ experiences illuminate broader phenomena, such as the feminization of migration, technology’s impact on assimilation and the maintenance of far-flung networks, and the role that overseas remittance plays in quality of life in former colonies. The book also ably relates the politics of immigration starting in the 1960s. This well-crafted story personalizes the questions and trends surrounding global migration in moving and thought-provoking fashion.
A powerful examination of one of the day’s most important topics: global migration ... Giving a human face to the issue of immigration, the author does a great service to his readers and his subjects. A gorgeously written, uniquely insightful, and evenly critical volume that hits every talking point on immigration today.