Brazilian author Cassitas depicts a family’s struggles over several generations in her debut novel.
Ricardo’s life no longer makes sense. His successful career in finance is falling apart after the real estate bubble burst in 2008. Although he’s a realist, he still suffers under the weight of knowing that his decisions have ruined the lives of people who trusted him, and the impending birth of his son only adds to his stress. The novel intertwines Ricardo’s story with his extended family’s history. As years go by, passions play out across generations, eventually leading to Ricardo and his future wife Carolina’s deep, forbidden love—they are essentially second cousins. In the present day, Carolina, too, is troubled, as she struggles to determine whether her decision to live primarily as a wife and mother was the right one for her. Ricardo has a nervous breakdown that pulls the couple into unknown territory. Carolina goes into early labor, and their son’s birth forces her and Ricardo to decide whether they want to remain together. Cassitas’ historical novel is a fine effort, depicting details of everyday life for the family over several decades. Her engaging descriptions of cities’ poor conditions, particularly for immigrants, show the squalor in which families were forced to live and work. But the author stumbles with her characters’ wordy conversations, which sometimes go on for pages and are often as weighty as college philosophy dissertations; the author’s efforts to analyze the economic impact of the real estate collapse may confuse some readers. That said, Cassitas’ talent for storytelling shines through, making this family epic an intriguing study of how each generation affects the next. Cassitas’ future novels may prove more successful.
An ambitious but uneven family saga.