Synopses & Reviews
Clara Lugo grew up in a home that would have rattled the most grounded of children. Through brains and determination, she has long since slipped the bonds of her confining Dominican neighborhood in the northern reaches of Manhattan. Now she tries to live a settled professional life with her American husband and son in the suburbs of New Jersey--often thwarted by her constellation of relatives who don't understand her gringa
Her mostly happy life is disrupted, however, when Tito, a former boyfriend from fifteen years earlier, reappears. Something has impeded his passage into adulthood. His mother calls him an Unfinished Man. He still carries a torch for Clara; and she harbors a secret from their past. Their reacquaintance sets in motion an unraveling of both of their lives and reveals what the cost of assimilation--or the absence of it--has meant for each of them.
This immensely entertaining novel--filled with wit and compassion--marks the debut of a fine writer.
"Michaud, the head librarian at the New Yorker, writes well at the sentence level, but unconvincing characters and soap-operatic plot twists mar his debut about a resilient Dominican-American woman. Clara Lugo lives with her husband, Thomas, and their son, Guillermo, in the New Jersey suburbs and desperately wants another child, but can't conceive. Thomas, meanwhile, laid off from his job six months earlier, has lost his confidence. Clara's 16-year-old niece, Deysie, who has recently moved in with the Lugos, turns out to be pregnant by Clara's sister's ex-con boyfriend. Then Clara's old high school boyfriend, Tito Moreno, reappears. When Clara and Tito, who has failed to move on after their brief tryst 15 years earlier, try to resolve some unfinished personal business, hurtful revelations promise to change the course of both their lives. Despite Clara's complicated family drama, Tito's unhealthy obsession with Clara, and a subplot with the seedy ex-con, the story fails to garner any emotional weight. Author tour. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Jon Michaud's openhearted, soulful novel is a love story . . . but that's not all it is: it's also a multigenerational portrait of a family and the community around it; a joint meditation on contemporary manhood and, even more powerfully, contemporary womanhood; and a collection of delicately paced, astutely observed scenes that illuminate the way that people hide and reveal, hurt and heal." Ben Greenman, author of What He’s Poised to Do and Please Step Back
"Jon Michaud . . . made me laugh while he was breaking my heart. His novel is a joy, a treasure, and a triumph." Lauren Grodstein, author of A Friend of the Family
About the Author
Jon Michaud is the head librarian at The New Yorker magazine and a regular contributor to newyorker.com. His short stories have been published in North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Fawlt, and other journals. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife (also a librarian) and their two sons.