In this novel, an American man is beguiled by a Colombian woman who marries him in order to get a green card to live in the United States.
Daniel Durán is a divorced single father when he meets Silvia on an Internet matchmaking site. At first, their relationship is purely platonic: Silvia is involved with another man, and Daniel is overcoming an infatuation with his children’s music teacher. But as time passes, their relationship becomes increasingly intense, culminating in a face-to-face meetup in Silvia’s native Colombia, where Daniel himself was raised. After a few passionate encounters during the trip, they decide to get married so that Silvia can live with Daniel in the United States, a process that grows more complicated when Silvia insists that her own, nearly grown children come to America as well. As the years pass, Daniel and Silvia’s relationship, like any, has its ups and downs, but Daniel slowly begins to suspect that Silvia’s motives in marrying him had more to do with living in America than with him. As the marriage deteriorates, Daniel reflects on their complicated past and prepares himself for a very different future than what he had once imagined. Unfortunately, Potes’ debut novel is deeply flawed. The narrative structure is jerky and unsatisfying, but more critically, its depictions of Silvia and the other female characters can be offensive. Though she’s at first a project of Daniel’s—in the wake of an abusive first husband, he introduces her to pleasurable sex, on top of paying for liposuction—she rapidly devolves into a shrieking nymphomaniac hellbent on destroying her husband’s life. Indeed, none of the women in the book bear much resemblance to real people; instead, they’re irrational antagonists Daniel must defeat, even as he demeans them. At one point, he refers to an early sexual experience with “a girl that looked like a hot dog.” Her scent “reminded [him] of sauerkraut.”
An unbalanced portrait of a marriage and its aftermath.