Get in the head of the most resilient girl in 1960s Dominican Republic and NYC—and maybe even the world.
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No quotation marks
Why I love it
Author, Those Who Knew
The best novels, I find, are books I begin for one reason and end up loving for another. That unpredictability is what makes a novel come alive for me. For many years, I have admired the vitality of Angie Cruz’s writing, and I anticipated that Dominicana would be full of dynamic scenes and fearless candor. What I didn’t expect was how intensely and often I would go on considering the resilience of its mesmerizing protagonist, Ana, after finishing this book.
Dominicana celebrates the tenacity of Ana Cancion, a 15 year old forced to marry a 32 year old as a business arrangement. Raised on a farm in the Dominican Republic, Ana ends up stuck in a hot apartment in New York City with a terrifying husband who obliges her to have sex she doesn’t want to have. Terribly alone in New York living with this oppressive, older husband Juan, Ana forges a bond with Juan’s younger brother, Cesar, and her sense of the possibilities of what her life may hold begin to expand.
Despite being trapped in a terrifying marriage she didn’t choose, Ana does not resign herself to quiet suffering. She remains defiantly open to joy. What fuels a person’s capacity for resilience is an elusive question that fiction is uniquely suited to answering, and Angie Cruz explores it in this novel with such subtlety and insight.
Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion 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. 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 Cesar, 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 Cesar 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 Cesar, 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.
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Chattanooga , TN
I can’t help but think of the DMB lyric, “I’m coming slow but speeding” when I think about the plot. We were moving, not fast enough, but then yet almost too fast at the end. I loved Ana and her story
A young Dominican immigrant in the foreign land of NYC and a dead Malcolm X on her doorstep. For her, it’s Malcom Who? for she doesn’t know English, doesn’t get out much. But she’s brave. Go Anna!
Cedar City, UT
Oh, what a book! We get to see Ana’s coming of age when, at just 15, she’s married to a man twice her age and whisked to America. But she rises to become her own person, showing determination and res
Well written. It made me feel for the character how young she was having to make it to America. Having no choice to be with a man you hate, but he’s your husbands brother you fall in love with him. ????
New York , NY
It’s a slow burner, it’s intense and heavy, but somehow softened by the heroine’s innocence. The writing is beautiful and the lack of quotation actually works, adding a whimsical touch to the story.
Bronx , NY
Read this one in less than 5 days - I didn’t want to put it down. Def helped me understand more first generation dominicans in the city. I am second generation and I’m thankful of the sacrifices made
I don’t know if it is being Dominican myself and feeling represented; or if it’s that the story of Ana is such a reality of those who come to chase the American dream, but this book made me feel seen.
Reflecting many womens’ experiences, this immigration story paints a vivid picture of resiliency, family, & sacrifice. I absolutely loved brave & tenacious Ana! Her journey tugged at my heartstrings.
Portland , OR
Such a great read! A very good portrayal of the immigrant experience. The domestic abuse/violence and age disparity was honest and sad and understanding Ana’s thoughts and reasoning was heartbreaking.
DOMINICANA is a staggering portrait of the immigrant experience, not only in 1965, but also today.... America comes alive through Ana’s eyes, with all of its benefits and flaws, and her story of resil
Fell in love with this book! The author is so witty and she writes so seamlessly and descriptively beautiful about the Dominican Republic of Ana’s eyes! So much to love long after you’re finished!
New York, NY
I didn’t want the book to end. I was automatically hook w every page love every minute of it. The author made me feel I was part of the story and was very clear with the details of Washington heights
North miami beach, FL
Wow wow wow!! can I say that it’s been a while since I actually finished a book. Not to be overly dramatic but I was rushing home every day to find out what would happen next. Ana gives me strength!
Los Angeles, CA
I love the way Angie Cruz writes. She paints these beautiful, vivid scenes with her words. I could feel the humidity in Los Guayacanes and taste the pastelitos Ana made in NYC for Cesar’s colleagues.
Loved this! Ana is an amazing character but isn’t just a fictional character. She’s so many women whose stories are not told and need to be heard. This story is about strength, resilience & family.
Heart-wrenching, powerful, and emotional. While things don’t get wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end, the stories told are realistic, making it both painful and beautiful to read. Highly recommend!
As a Dominican immigrant, I have never read a more relatable book. I felt heard and appreciated. Ana’s struggles are my struggles and the struggles of every immigrant young girl going to an new place
Beautiful story of a young Domenica Republic girl coming of age in New York City. Touching story of her struggles in being married to a man she doesn’t and her impactful decisions for a better life.
Ana was a really wonderful character. I was really rooting for her to find her happiness and joy. And living in Washington Heights myself, it was really cool to read about how it was and has changed
I used to read ALOT! That was before I got deathly sick 6 yrs ago. I shut down, Seeing this cub and the choices I had I decided to try reading again. Dominicana caught my eye. This book opened me up