Eric S, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Eric S)
For many reasons, I was reminded of T.C. Boyle's "The Tortilla Curtain" while I read this. A captivating story filled with vivid prose and believable characters. And it's a perfect read for a dreary winter day.
Mary Ziegler, January 3, 2013 (view all comments by Mary Ziegler)
Excellent writing. Wonderful insight into the lives of Mexican immigrants, particularly women who care for the children of wealthy couples. Good commentary on contemporary marriage, consumerism, and the sometimes thoughtless ways we lead our lives. Ultimately hopeful because of the strength of the central character.
Lindsay Waite, October 1, 2012 (view all comments by Lindsay Waite)
In many ways, two worlds co-exist when families hire maids (live in or otherwise), gardeners, childcare workers, and others of Latin American origin. There can be intimate involvement with live in "help" since the workers live side by side with their employers. Yet, there is a gulf between the lives of the two groups of people. Héctor Tobar's wonderful novel shows us both points of view.
Araceli and the sons of Scott and Maureen are unknowingly caught in a predicament caused by Scott and Maureen's marital strife. Araceli does the only thing that makes sense, trying to find a safe place for the boys. Cultural differences and cultural norms (where those who hire staff keep them at arm's length) result in an unfair predicament for Araceli.
Life in Los Angeles and the responsibility for others' children are filtered through Araceli's intelligent eyes. How the boys, Keenan and Brandon, interpret Los Angeles and the surrounds is also insightful. Ultimately, postponed dreams become more realized as the story concludes, and there is a sense of optimism.
Tobar effectively expresses the unique voices of all the characters, and I was sorry that the story ended. I plan to read more of his works very soon! He is a brilliant writer.
Picador USA -
Winner of the California Book Award for Fiction
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Best Book of the Year Lists
The New York Times Book Review • Los Angeles Times
San Francisco Chronicle • The Boston Globe
Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson have always relied on others to run their Orange County home. But when bad investments crater their bank account, it all comes down to Araceli: their somewhat prickly Mexican maid. One night, an argument between the couple turns physical, and a misunderstanding leaves the children in Aracelis care. Their parents unreachable, she takes them to central Los Angeles in the hopes of finding Scotts estranged Mexican father---an earnest quest that soon becomes a colossal misadventure, with consequences that ripple through every strata of the sprawling city. The Barbarian Nurseries is a masterful tale of contemporary Los Angeles, a novel as alive as the city itself.
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