Synopses & Reviews
In writing both rich and evocative, Pamela Carter Joern conjures the small plains town of Reach, Nebraska, where residents are stuck tight in the tension between loneliness and the risks of relationships.
With insight, wry humor, and deep compassion, Joern renders a cast of recurring characters engaged in battles public and private, epic and mundane: a husband and wife find themselves the center of a local scandal; a widow yearns for companionship, but on her own terms; a father and son struggle with their broken relationship; a man longs for escape from a communitys limited view of love; a boys misguided attempt to protect his brother results in a senseless tragedy. In the town of Reach, where there is hope and hardship, connections may happen in surprising ways or lie achingly beyond grasp.
"In this engrossing collection sometimes intense, at other times darkly humorous debut author Crucet portrays the daily challenges, heartbreak and family ties that penetrate Hialeah, a working-class Cuban-American neighborhood in Miami. In 'El Destino Hauling,' a young girl pays witness to a night-long family funeral for a father who was run over by his son, perhaps by intent. 'The Next Move' follows a grandfather left to struggle through the day without his wife while she's visiting family in Cuba. In 'Men Who Punched Me in the Face,' a woman repeatedly drawn to abusive men convinces herself she enjoys being hit. A story set in the Cuban countryside finds a young woman struggling to make ends meet with just three prized possessions: a rooster, a bar of soap and Kotex maxi pads. Crucet details vividly the daily struggle that leads Cubans to prize their heritage above much else, but also illuminates a powerful need to escape the past. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“What a joy it is to read the work of a writer who has a powerful voice, a sense of humor, and a feeling for local histories. Jennine Capó Crucet’s stories start with Cuban American neighborhoods and cultures and then sail off into the direction of the great themes: love, familial bonds, aging, and death. And resurrection. This is a wonderful collection.”—Charles Baxter
“This is definitely a young writer to watch for, sassy, smart, with an unerring ear for a community’s voices, its losses, its over-the-top telenovela extravagances, and its poignant struggles to understand itself in a new land. I was glad not to have to leave Hialeah right away, but to stay long enough to hear its many stories as told by a gifted writer like Jennine Capó Crucet.”—Julia Alvarez, author, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Return to Sender
“Jennine Capó Crucet is an electrifying new talent—she’s funny, she’s smart, and she knows how to tell great stories. I fell in love with this terrific collection from the first paragraph, and I was still smitten on the last page.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author, American Wife
is a Winesburg, Ohio
for the contemporary Great Plains. . . . Filled with complicated human stories, it is a joy to read and will stay with the reader for a long, long time.”—Dan OBrien, author of A Wild Idea
“Pamela Carter Joerns fictional village of Reach, Nebraska, is populated by people you have known, or known of, all your life. In these glimpses of life as it is really lived, you will encounter your aunt Ella, your grandfather Leland, even the uncle no one mentions. You may agree that God is not absent if you are there. You will never forget Marlene and Vernon. Each character is doing “the best he can do” to harvest satisfaction from their lives. Searching for connections, you will find these folks in reach of your heart.”—Linda M. Hasselstrom, author of No Place Like Home
and Dirt Song
is an elegant, pitch-perfect book. . . . Pamela Joern has once again demonstrated that shes the real thing, a masterful writer capable of showing us the world through the passions, disappointments, secrets, losses, and small achievements of characters whose submerged lives are played out against the harsh beauty of the Nebraska plains. I loved this book.”—Ladette Randolph, author of Havens Wake
"Joern's talent is in creating fully realized, interesting characters and unambiguous stories that weave together several threads."—Mary Ann Grossmann, twincities.com
"Joern is a seasoned tour guide. As she tells her stories, she lets us know that she understands our broken, beautiful, humanity. For that we should give her thanks."—Aaron Klink, Collegeville Institute
United in their fierce sense of place and infused with the fading echoes of a lost homeland, the stories in Jennine Capó Crucet’s striking debut collection do for Miami what Edward P. Jones does for Washington, D.C., and what James Joyce did for Dublin: they expand our ideas and our expectations of the city by exposing its tough but vulnerable underbelly.
Crucet’s writing has been shaped by the people and landscapes of South Florida and by the stories of Cuba told by her parents and abuelos. Her own stories are informed by her experiences as a Cuban American woman living within and without her community, ready to leave and ready to return, “ready to mourn everything.”
Coming to us from the predominantly Hispanic working-class neighborhoods of Hialeah, the voices of this steamy section of Miami shout out to us from rowdy all-night funerals and kitchens full of plátanos and croquetas and lechón ribs, from domino tables and cigar factories, glitter-purple Buicks and handed-down Mom Rides, private homes of santeras and fights on front lawns. Calling to us from crowded expressways and canals underneath abandoned overpasses shading a city’s secrets, these voices are the heart of Miami, and in this award-winning collection Jennine Capó Crucet makes them sing.
About the Author
Jennine Capó Crucet was born to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, the Southern Review, the Northwest Review, and other magazines. She is the recipient of a Bread Loaf Scholarship and has been a finalist for the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize and the University of California, Irvine, Chicano/Latino Literary Prize. A graduate of Cornell University, she currently lives and writes in Los Angeles.