Lyrical and poignant, this multigenerational story follows the lives of one Colombian family separated by borders.
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Why I love it
I fell hard for Engel's storytelling back in 2010 with her debut Vida and then again when I read The Veins of the Ocean. But this is Engel at her best. I read Infinite Country in one sitting, devouring the book from the very first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun.”
From the get, I was invested in Talia, a teen living in Colombia who is attempting to break out of a correctional facility after being sentenced for an impulsive and arguably justified crime. Talia is on the run and on the clock, racing against time to catch a flight to reunite with her family in the United States. Told with tenderness and brilliance, this is a nuanced story of a resilient family from Colombia who are pulled apart by deportation.
This is the kind of book that allows you to see and feel the whole issues of immigration and displacement, offering an intimate perspective of an experience that touches and impacts us all. What I love about this novel is that the characters' choices, gestures, and yearnings defy the expectations of the reader. The landscapes, situations, and character dynamics are gritty, unpredictable, curious, and warm-hearted. Through one family’s incredible journey, and their commitment to each other, I am reminded of, if and when we allow it, the possibility of and capacity for love. I am so grateful for this book. It gave me all the feels.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States.
They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further.
Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen, gives voice to Mauro and Elena, as well as their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia—each one navigating a divided existence, weighing their allegiance to the past, the future, to one another, and to themselves. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.
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This book is written powerfully and beautifully, coloring emotionally evocative scenes of the pain surrounding a family torn apart by deportation in the quest to find “a better life”. Non linear style
Gives insight into a family separated by borders, the trials of those who struggle through life undocumented, & why it’s critical never to forget about the human side of immigration debates. Powerful!
Beautiful but difficult narrative of family, love and life. The challenges of deportation, being “other”, and how family is the thread that keeps you going. Incredible - the end brought me to tears.
Santa Fe, NM
Such a beautifully written and profound meditation on what it means for immigrant families to be split apart. The use of history and myth, combined with strong character development, deepened the bk.
Aurora , CO
This book divulges the hurt America has caused so many families on an intimate and personal level. A must read for anyone committed to broadening their perspective on what it means to live in borders.
I'm so grateful to Ms Engel for writing this thought-provoking novel. INFINITE COUNTRY really touched my heart! A story about how a Latino family survives living in two countries for fifteen years.
Salt Lake City, UT
Magical! A dark Colombian fairy tale. I gobbled up every detail & cried tears of joy by the end. Having been to Bogota, this book lit up colorful memories in my mind. I hope this story brings empathy.
Oh my heart! I read a post stating this should be required reading in schools & I 100% agree! This book changes cold statistics involving immigration to personifying the inhumane separation of family.
Wow this book is amazing. It spans decades of time about a family that comes to the States for a better life and they get separated. The book jumps timelines and eventually they come together. So good
New York, NY
Beautiful novel on the meaning of belonging, family, and country--what it takes to leave it all behind whether by choice or force, and a heart-wrenching tale of what it means to be 'illegal' in the US
Infinite Country is a beautiful story of one family's struggle to connect while being separated by harsh borders. The switch to the older brother & sister was jarring, but made sense to the narrative.
Absolutely breathtaking. I bawled my eyes out the last couple chapters. Incredible!! The complexity of leaving behind so much in the hopes of establishing a better life was so beautifully demonstrated
A small, heartbreaking and powerful book about the power and resiliency of an immigrant family trying to make it in the US no matter what comes their way, even deportation. An important and must read.
Little Elm, TX
As a Texan dating a 2ndgeneration Mexican immigrant this touched me in ways I didn't expect. I found myself sobbing in grief, heartache and joy through the entire novel. I hope someday America changes
I felt like I was watching the characters’ lives unfold in front of me; I wrestled with their decisions while they did, and I hated and loved people for them. I’m thankful to have read this book.
Every time I read a book like this, I cringe at how much I still don’t know about immigration. It’s like living in this country and not knowing about slavery. Written beautifully! Kudos to Engel!
Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and necessary. This is the kind of book that can teach empathy. Each member of the family is rendered so realistically, flaws and all, that you can't help but understand them.
Farmington Hills, MI
Wow! This book is all about family & the nations they crossed & citizenry they had to deal with. Separation & dislocation plague many families, it's a real issue. Im glad they were together in the end
A quick shot read. It does paint a bleak picture Latinx immigrants face when trying to enter the US and become citizens. Beautifully written; I felt the emotions of each person & their want to fit in.
What the author packs into a book less than 200 pages and teaches you about the challenges of immigration to the US. I am simply ashamed at how terrible we are to those most desperate. Amazing book.