The Affairs of the Falcóns: A Novel, by Melissa Rivero
Have you ever had a book hangover? Similar to a real hangover, it’s like you’re kind of in a fog the next day, with some residual mental soreness. I was NOT prepared for the major book hangover I’d get from this book.
In this novel we meet Ana, a Peruvian immigrant in New York City in the 1990s. Ana has a husband, Lucho, and two young children, and to save money after Lucho lost his job. They are staying with Lucho’s cousin, Valeria, and her husband and son, and it’s becoming very clear that Valeria thinks they have overstayed their welcome, and uncovers some residual family drama from before everyone moved to the United States.
Ana works in a factory, trying to support her family and avoid conflict, as well as a loan shark who calls herself Mama.
What is so brilliant about this book is that most of the rising conflict of this story is told via realistic concerns of undocumented immigrants. You can’t help but put yourself in the shoes of a mother whose every little choice is filtered through the impact it could have on her family, and possible deportation. There are no public benefits, no credit cards to max out, and the cash-based job market is littered with crime, manipulation, and competition among other people looking to make any extra income they can. The protections that we take for granted simply don’t apply.
In many ways, Rivero is not writing that much fiction. Other than what we see on the news, we have little-to-no view into this emotional toll. As a mother, Ana’s life is filtered through the eyes of what is best for her children. I reflected on the sacrifices my own mother made in her immigrant experience, and thought about my own future as a mother. Would I make the same choices Ana makes throughout the book? How about the choices of the other mothers?
It’s books like this (and the ones authored by Etaf Rum, Clementine Wamariya , and MANY more), who help inform us of the struggle of immigrants in this country, with their many cultural and sociological variances. It’s been studied over and over and over again, this idea that reading makes us more empathetic people. I’m glad that publishers seem to be taking note, and highlighting the prose of diverse women who give us the privilege and honor of witnessing their stories.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Go get it at your library, Amazon, or local bookstore, and then come back and let’s talk about it!
Source: I bought this book via Amazon, and received no compensation for this review.
And now for some special event info:
If you live near Washington DC, go visit Jamise from @spinesvines at Kramer Books and Afterwords Cafe on Thursday, July 25th, 7-9pm !
Get tickets here.
If I wasn’t anticipating to have a newborn mid-July, I would be there in a heartbeat. I had the pleasure of meeting Jamise at BookExpo last year, and she is one of the most down-to-earth, authentic people I’ve ever met. She is so passionate about elevating the voices of women of color authors through her #Bookstagram platform. I dare you to have a conversation with her and not be inspired.