by Angie Cruz

Hardcover, 2019




New York : Flatiron Books, 2019.


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 has to say yes. 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, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with César, 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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
Ana Canción is just fifteen when she is married to a man over twice her age and leaves her family and the Dominican Republic for a life in an apartment in New York City. It's an abrupt change from living with her large family on a farm to a small apartment in Washington Heights with only her husband and her husband's brother, both of whom are usually working. Ana is expected to stay in, cleaning house and cooking for her husband, but she longs to get a chance to learn English and start earning money to send home to her family. She's at the whim of her husband's moods and as an undocumented immigrant who speaks no English, she's especially dependent on him. When unrest envelopes the Dominican Republic in 1965, Ana's husband returns to protect his business interests, leaving Ana space to begin to see what life in the US might hold for her.

Angie Cruz based this novel on her mother's recollections and this novel is full of what life was like in Washington Heights in the mid-sixties as well as what was expected of her by both her husband and her family. Cruz is writing about a fifteen-year-old girl and the narration reflects the emotions and excitements of that age, even as Ana inhabits the life of a married, pregnant woman. This is a wonderful book, both as a vivid account of a specific time and place, and as the coming of age story of a young woman thrust into unfamiliar circumstances who fights to make a life for herself.
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LibraryThing member MM_Jones
The author succeeds in doing what she set out to accomplish, telling the immigrant story from the view of a female from the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, as the author explains in the acknowledgement, "Who would be interested in a story about a woman like me? It's so typical". The story is topical, the writing good, but the book isn't all that interesting.… (more)
LibraryThing member Hccpsk
Deceptively simple prose and small mini-chapters form the structure of Angie Cruz’s new book, Dominicana. A coming-of-age story following Ana from her poor, rural village in the Dominican Republic to New York City after marrying the much older, Juan, who really only wants her family’s land. Ana has to lie about her age, but in reality, she grows up just as fast in a terrible relationship and difficult circumstances. Cruz has created a real page-turner and deep character in Ana that is not easily forgotten. The political turmoil of 1960s DR and New York play a dynamic background to Ana’s inner turmoil and make for another interesting aspect of the book. Dominicana is a great choice for literary fiction readers looking for a new twist on a classic coming-of-age story.… (more)
LibraryThing member richardderus
The pages turned...

On page 48, Ana Canción gets raped by Juan, the man she's already agreed to marry in order to escape Rafael Trujillo's repressive Dominican Republic for a "better life" in New York City.

They get to New York, start a tailoring business, and Ana gets pregnant. Yay. She decides to run away from Juan, but his brother César convinces her to come back, be with him. Some things happen; Juan gets a mistress; Ana's pregnancy drags on and on and on; César leaves for Boston, leaves her finally-tasting-love pregnant ass with violent Juan who is in love with another woman.

Some more pages flip...

Juan behaves himself after he comes home from a trip to the Dominican, sort of; the baby's born; Ana's Mamá comes to stay just before the baby's born, the excrement saltates into the rotary ventilation enhancement device, Ana lives to fight another day.

It's a bog-standard immigrant story. It could be told by any woman of any nationality, not one thing here is unique. The author had a very good editor, one who left in enough Dominican Spanish to make the text more engrossing, and she possesses a finely honed sense for how much story she can tell before she hits telenovela territory. I didn't dislike it but in a week I won't remember a thing about it.
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LibraryThing member Beth.Clarke
A gripping historical fiction novel set in NYC and the Dominican Republic. The author's writing style makes the settings come alive. It's quite descriptive and beautiful. The plot, seeming like the typical immigrant story, is anything but typical. Ana's a young teenager when she marries and moves to Harlem. She is forced to find her way and deal with tragic circumstances. She proves to be a strong, independent force. A perfect nominee for the Aspen Words prize.… (more)
LibraryThing member miss.mesmerized
Ana has always been an extraordinarily pretty child, so when she becomes a teenager, her parents see this as a chance to escape their poor situation. At the age of fifteen, she is married to one of the Ruiz brothers, a family making a fortune in the US which allows them to control more and more land in the Dominican Republic. Ana has to follow her new husband to New York where she lives in a poor, rundown apartment and the promises of being able to go to school are soon forgotten. She has to serve Juan and his brothers and if she doesn’t obey or dares to speak up, he shows her with brutal force who has the say in their home. She becomes more and more desperate and finally develops a plan to flee, but she underestimates her new family.

Angie Cruz’s novel is set in the 1960s, but her protagonist’s fate could be as real in 2020. Young and naive girls fall prey to seducing men or are forced by their parents to leave their home country for a supposedly better life abroad where they, with the status as an illegal immigrant, hardly have a chance to escape their domestic situation which is often marked by poverty, oppression and being exposed to violence of all kinds by their domineering husbands. Dependence due to lack of language knowledge often combined with isolation makes them sooner or later give up all opposition and succumbing to the life they are forced to live.

It is easy to sympathise with Ana; at the beginning, she is a lively girl with dreams and vivid emotions even though she has also experienced her parents’ strict and at times brutal education. She is quite clever, nevertheless, the new life in New York overburdens her and she needs some time to accommodate and develop coping strategies. However, then, she becomes the independent thinker I had hoped for, but never egoistically does she only think about herself, she also reflects what any step could mean for her family at home whose situation with the political turmoil of 1965 worsens dramatically.

A wonderful novel about emancipation and a strong-willed young woman which allows a glance behind normally closed doors.
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LibraryThing member PazEllis
Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is one of my favorite books written by Latina authors. Her style is refreshing and unique. The cover is perfect. I love the time period, as it is the same time my own mother came to the US and lived in New York City. I cringed at the sacrifice that Ana was forced to make for her family. She was a child and was thrust into a world of violence and loneliness, but she was brave and determined to not disappoint her mother. As a child of a Dominican woman, I could relate to the duty that young Ana would not betray. The upheaval in the Dominican Republic was all too real for my own Dominican family and it added to the feel of “historical fiction.”… (more)
LibraryThing member viviennestrauss
At times I wanted to just weep with frustration for Ana.



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