Natera’s writing style is detailed and intimate but leaves plenty to the imagination. The mother-daughter dynamic propels the novel and creates its dramatic tension, but Natera also includes interludes from the Tongues, the blabbermouth neighborhood chismosas, or gossips, who hear everything and know everything. Through these voices, Natera’s depiction of Northar Park becomes lively and vibrant, which brings the reader back to the novel’s central focus: home. As the Guerreros’ dreams shift—Lux desires an Upper West Side apartment, and Vladimir hopes for a new house in the Dominican Republic—the reader is encouraged to ask what home really is. Is it a place? A peace? Neruda on the Park doesn’t give answers but rather lets the reader and the Guerrero family decide for themselves.
As Eusebia and Luz engage in a classic mother-daughter battle over control and independence, the juxtaposition of their confused inner lives shapes the plot with unpredictable curves that confound the usual left-right political didactics. Instead, through these women, Natera plays with definitions of home and material and spiritual success, showing how the personal and political can become confused even when a cause, or a crime, seems straightforward ... A savvy melodrama, warmhearted and as astute as a lawyer’s brief.