Dominicana is chock-full of sociological insights on immigrant experiences, such as its depiction of the fluidity between power and powerlessness, and how the wounded pride of immigrant men in the public arena is reclaimed within the home through hyper-masculinity and physical abuse ... It’s as if the novel doesn’t allow us to hate Juan for his infidelity and abuse, because we understand how he, too, was forced into marriage and into the role of a family’s savior ... It’s a novel that dares you to put it down, that rings with truth in every page while it entertains and offers tender and heart-wrenching moments in equal measure ... Dominicana tells the story of the hollowed-out woman; it gives shape and shadow to a narrative that has been erased and recalls other stories of immigrant women to mind in a way that feels like a long-overdue acknowledgement of all women with similar experiences.
... an intimate portrait of the transactional nature of marriage and the economics of both womanhood and citizenship, one all too familiar to many first-generation Americans ... There are limits to Cruz’s choice to narrate Dominicana from Ana’s present-tense perspective; at times the novel ventures into scenes that Ana can’t possibly know about. While we’re sometimes told she’s piecing these together from conversations she’s overheard, more often such moments briefly pull us out of the dream of Ana’s otherwise compelling voice. That said, this temporary disorientation only brings the reader closer to Ana’s own disoriented consciousness ... There’s a lovely implication in this weaving of the lives swirling around [Ana's] own: the sense that Ana’s story is playing out time and again in other apartments, other buildings, other neighborhoods across this country, across centuries.
Cruz writes with warmth, empathy and remarkable perception about the immigrant experience. Engaging and illuminating, Dominicana will appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed novels by Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez.
a staggering portrait of the immigrant experience, not only in 1965, but also today. Combined with Ana’s coming-of-age storyline, this makes for a book perfect for anyone who has ever felt lonely, stagnant or trapped. But most of all, it is for the families who have waited far too long to have their stories told --- families who gave up homes, lives and loved ones for something greater, only to be faced with hatred, discrimination and a different kind of political turmoil. America comes alive through Ana’s eyes, with all of its benefits and flaws, and her story of resilience is one that will stick with anyone who reads it.
...a grim portrait of what it means to be doubly disenfranchised as a female illegal immigrant in an oppressively patriarchal community ... In the acknowledgments of this absorbing if imperfect exploration of the transactional bargains that women are forced to strike is a plea for film and photographic footage of New York’s Dominican community from the 1950s to the 1980s. The kind of colour that such an archive might yield is precisely what’s missing from the narrative. While its Dominican sections evoke skin that tastes of the ocean, a place where the ground is strewn with ripe apricots and radios fill the air with song, in the main it could be set almost any time, any place. There are moments, too, when the dialogue seems jarringly anachronistic.
Cruz’s sensuous and passionate descriptions, especially of the Dominican Republic, make the tough story bearable. You can almost smell the mangos, chayote and platanos; the stolen childhood Ana so desperately longs for ... The novel offers a gritty insight into the sacrifices people make to get US citizenship and the hard-nosed choices forced on them ... Still, the harsh reality of immigration is balanced with a refreshing dose of humour...and honesty ... The alternating focus of the chapters—not only on Ana’s experience, but also on Juan’s—attempts to coax out a degree of compassion towards Juan who, pining for another woman...has also been forced to make sacrifices. Cruz is not entirely successful at this; empathy towards Juan, who has a violent streak, is hard to muster.
...[an] enthralling story about Dominican immigrants in the mid-1960s ... The intimate workings of Ana’s mind are sometimes childlike and sometimes tortured, and her growth and gradually blooming wisdom is described with a raw, expressive voice. Cruz’s winning novel will linger in the reader’s mind long after the close of the story.
Ana as narrator is mesmeric, funny, enchanting ... Is it true, then, that the immigrant must surrender her family to be an American? This novel was inspired by the author’s mother’s own story. The answer reveals itself as this novel — a story of sacrifice, strength and love.
Ana’s burden of her mother’s demands, a husband she does not love, and a foreign land make Dominicana a particularly heart wrenching coming of age story. Plucked from her childhood and brought into circumstances beyond her control, Angie Cruz carefully takes us through Ana’s heartache and reality. Each character has their influence on Ana, but no one more than Washington Heights itself. The Heights becomes its own living and breathing character that interacts and changes with Ana as she buds from the concrete, giving us a full picture of what it was like in New York for an immigrant in the 60s. An important novel for our time, Dominicana is beautifully written with a spellbound lead in Ana that leaves us hopeful when her story seems anything but.
Cruz masterfully provides insight into the 1960s Dominican immigration to the U.S ... Cruz is consistently strong in her characterization and treats everyone from the desperately ambitious Mama to the conflicted Juan with empathy, while Ana is her crowning achievement as she emerges from girlhood to become a resolute and focused young woman ... This is not an immigrant tale about magically achieving the American dream or any other successes; instead it captures the gritty reality of starting out in a new land with no real footholds. In Ana’s fierce dreams for her child, and Juan’s tender hopes for the next generation, Cruz creates an unforgettable portrayal of immigrant motivation. Cruz’s ability to create mood and atmosphere with her distinctive writing style make her a strong voice in Dominican American literature.
In this coming-to-America story, the harsh realities of immigration are laid bare, but equally clear are the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who choose to make a new life far from home ... Author Cruz ...based the book on her own mother’s experiences, and Ana’s narration is wry and absorbing ... A moving, sad, and sometimes disarmingly funny take on migration and the forces that propel us into the world.