AMÉRICA'S DREAM by Esmeralda Santiago


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 Puerto Ricanborn first-novelist Santiago (the memoir When I Was Puerto Rican, 1993) gives a contemporary twist to the immigrant experience as she limns the plight of a woman escaping an abusive man to pursue her dreams. AmÇrica Gonzalez was an unmarried teenage mother, as her own mother, Ester, was before her, so when 14-year-old daughter Rosalinda runs away with her boyfriend, AmÇrica fears the worst. A housekeeper at a hotel in Puerto Rico, she cleans up after rich guests, dreaming of making a better life for Rosalinda. Her daughter soon comes home, and though she is not pregnant, she and AmÇrica fight constantly--fights exacerbated by Correa, Rosalinda's irresponsible father, who insists on interfering in the way AmÇrica raises their daughter. A married man with a family, Correa continues to see AmÇrica, whom he insists is his true love. But AmÇrica's love for Correa has been destroyed by his increasingly violent abuse, assaults triggered by alcohol and jealousy. When the Leveretts, an American family vacationing at the hotel, offer AmÇrica a job in New York taking care of their two children, she accepts and begins planning her journey without telling Correa. Once there, she finds life in the Westchester household not only lonely but less than perfect: The Leveretts work long hours, often quarrel, and seem unable to enjoy their home or their children. AmÇrica begins making plans to bring Rosalinda to the States, but Correa, who's discovered his lover's whereabouts, calls to say he's coming to take her back. In a nail-biting climax, AmÇrica finally frees herself from Correa and is at last able to assert her ``right to live life as she chooses.'' Santiago's acute eye and feel for the telling detail make this a work of fine reportage, as well as an engrossing if often somber tale with a quiet but always tenacious heroine. ($55,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017279-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996


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