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The Book of Unknown Americans

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Melissa Mendes

on 18 April 2015

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Transcript of The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans
by Cristina Henriquez

"It's fucked up. The whole thing is very, very complicated. I mean, does anyone ever talk about why people are crossing? I can promise you it's not with some grand ambition to come here and ruin everything for the gringo chingaos. People are desperate, man...What choice do people have in the face of that? Like they really want to be tied to the underside of a car or stuffed into a trunk like a rug or walking in nothing but some sorry-ass sandals through the burning sand for days, a bottle or hot water in their hands? Half of them ending up dead, or burned up so bad that when someone finds them, their skin is black and their lips are cracked open? Another half of them drowning in rivers. And half after that picked up by la migra and sent back to where they came from, or beaten, or arrested. The women raped in the ass. And for what? To come here and make beds in a hotel along the highway? To be separated from their families?"- Micho
The Rivera Family:
Alma,Arturo, Maribel
The Toro Family:
Rafael, Celia, Enrique, Mayor
Benny Quinto, Gustavo Milhojas, Quesqueya Solis, Adolfo 'Fito' Angelino, Nelia Zafon, Jose Mercado, Micho Alvarez,

Book begins with the Riveras coming to the United States because their daughter has suffered brain damage- want her to attend helpful school for recovery
The apartment complex the Riveras live in is diverse, immigrants whom share similar experiences
First person with changing narrators- each reveals their home country and how they ended up in Delaware
Climax- Arturo is shot while looking for Maribel
"We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them." - Micho
Apartment complex in small town in Delaware
"I try to make this building like an island for all of us washed-ashore refugees. A safe harbor"
This wasn't supposed to happen. We had followed the rules. We had said to ourselves, We won't be like everyone else, those people who packed up and went north without waiting first for the proper authorization. We were no less desperate than them. We understood, just as they did, how badly a person could want a thing-money, or peace of mind, or a better education for their injured daughter, or just a chance, a chance! at this thing called life." - Alma
"It's been difficult, yes, but I would do it all again. People do what they have to in this life. We try to get from one end of it to the other with dignity and with honor. We do the best we can" -Arturo
Man vs nature- characterization of being immigrant: low paying jobs, culture shock, adjusting to different country, stereotypes of Latinos
Man vs nature- Maribel's brain damage
Man vs self- Alma believes Maribel's brain damage is her fault
How is this YA?
It's a love story, they grow together- Mayor & Maribel
They connect, he helps her recover, she helps him feel comfortable with himself
"Finding is for things that are lost. You don't need to find me, Mayor"- Maribel

"We would be thousands of miles apart from now on and we would go on with our lives and get older and change and grow, but we would never have to look for each other. Inside each of us, I was pretty sure, was a place for each other. Nothing that had happened and nothing that would ever happen would make that less true" -Mayor
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