Today, it’s another review of a book on the long-list for the Women’s Prize 2020 and it’s Dominicana by Angie Cruz.
Firstly, I hope everyone is okay at the moment at these times. I hope everyone’s safe, washing your hands (religiously) and not panic buying EVERYTHING and not stashing all of the toilet roll under your stairs. I hope everyone’s safe inside with tea, snacks, and of course, great books. It’s a scary, anxious time right now all over the world and I feel we all need books now more than ever and escapism. I’ve been in awe of the love and support for independent bookshops on social media over recent days and it just shows the power and love this book community/industry has for one another.
But I’m going to keep reviewing and talking about books because like I’ve said, we need good books and escapism more than ever. Today, it’s about Dominicana by Angie Cruz, on the long-list for the Women’s Prize 2020. What’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Ana Canción never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she must say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by César, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving César to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, dance with César at the Audubon Ballroom, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.
Before the long-list announcement, I’ve seen this book a few times on social media but I didn’t know that much about it. After the long-list was announced, this was a book that kept catching my eye and it was one the first books I read on the long-list that I haven’t read previously. This book is conflicting for me, to be honest. Firstly, I am glad it’s on the list. It’s an important story and there’s a lot to love in the book but on the other hand, I didn’t like it either and I found it a bit of chore to get through at the same time.
I liked the writing style of the book, especially early on. I like how short the chapters were – the only reason why I kept reading and finishing it, to be honest, I think. Cruz is a great writer and you can tell that this is an important story for her to share with the world and there’s great moments, especially with Ana as a character on her own. But for me, as the book progressed, I found myself losing interest and found a lot of it repetitive and nothing new coming from the story.
Overall, I think this is a book with a lot of heart and love within it – both from the author and the story and themes itself – but it was a conflicting read for me, too. It’s not one of my personal favourites on the list but I’m glad I read it and I think it deserves it’s spot on the long-list and I’m just glad that it wasn’t American Dirt instead.
Have you read Dominicana? What did you think? Let me know in the comments and keep safe and keep reading!