Read advance reader review of The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea, page 2 of 3

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The House of Broken Angels

by Luis Alberto Urrea

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea X
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
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  • Published:
    Mar 2018, 336 pages

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  • Anne G. (Austin, TX)


    The House of Broken Angels
    One of my favorite authors has a new novel about a big, unruly, multi-generational Mexican American family on the eve of their patriarch's final birthday.

    Here are a couple of quotes that I think really reflect the beauty of the writing in this book:

    "La Gloriosa was up early. She didn't know why everybody thought she was late to everything. Cabrones. She was usually up before almost everybody else. It took time to be this fine--you didn't just jump out of bed looking like the living legend of the family."

    and

    "Mexican fathers made speeches. He wanted to leave her with a blessing, with beautiful words to sum up a life, but there were no words sufficient to this day. But still he tried. 'All we do, mija,' he said, 'is love. Love is the answer. Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death.'"
  • Mary H. (Ocala, FL)


    A Beautiful Immigrant Story
    This well-crafted story of a Mexican American family centers around an eventful weekend. The de la Cruz family members travel from far and wide to attend 100-year-old America's funeral and the final birthday party for Big Angel, the dying patriarch of the clan.

    Funerals and final birthdays inspire reflection, storytelling and connecting with others in special ways. Big Angel and other family members relate tales of how they came to America and developed into the clan they are today. Through the voices of several generations, we see how mores, character and ambitions have changed and evolved through the years. The weekend causes Big Angel to reflect on how he has lived his life. Some of this he does privately and some he shares with a select few. As family and friends speak at his birthday celebration, we see him from many different perspectives. Ultimately, we come to know and appreciate Big Angel as a complex, loving leader of a beautiful family.

    Through this novel the author has brought us into the world of Mexican family life. The de la Cruzes are loud, passionate, bossy and loving. Above all, they know that family is everything.

    Immigrant stories are particularly timely today. They remind us that no matter where we are from, we are all an important part of the mosaic that defines who we are as a nation.
  • Jill S. (Chicago, IL)


    About our better angels: another winner by Urrea
    Luis Alberto Urrea's latest book is about our better angels and how the guide us to purpose and meaning. "All we do, mija," the oldest brother, Big Angel, says, "is love. Love is the answer. Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death."

    Miguel Angel de la Cruz - aka Big Angel - is dying and he wants one last big birthday party. His entire huge and rambunctious family, including Little Angel - the son from his father's second life and a stand-on for Luis Alberto Urrea - are there for the merging of celebration and impending death.

    Complicated family dynamics are at play as the borders that separate us - literally and figuratively - are explored and resentments and secrets are revealed. The unruliness of the family - particularly at first - can sometimes seem overwhelming as many characters - sons, daughters, tios and tias - are introduced quickly, and I do believe that Mr. Urrea intended to create that effect. Mr. Urrea is a superb writer and he has captured a family at the precipice of a major transition and how, at the end of the day, love prevails.

    Poignancy and humor interject here - as they do in life -for a most satisfying reading experience. Definitely recommended.
  • Dottie B. (Louisville, KY)


    The House of Broken Angels
    Luis Alberto Urrea's The House of Broken Angels is a novel as large and large-hearted as the Mexican-American family it depicts. Ostensibly it is about two days in the life of the family's dying patriarch Big Angel--his mother's funeral and his last birthday party. But it also highlights the sadness and joy of each character in Big Angel's extended family. In this novel Urrea demonstrates the great hopes and losses of Chicanos who have moved north across the border. The novel should be read by anyone who wants to understand the ambiguity of the immigrant experience in general and the Mexican-American experience in particular.
  • Judy W. (Tucker, GA)


    The House of Broken Angels
    The House of Broken Angels is the essential story of America--the de la Cruzes, a first generation American family, with one foot in California and the other still in Mexico. The family is flawed, complex, messy like any extended family. Urrea weaves the story in his usual, poetically beautiful language. The many Spanish words/phrases were rather daunting to a non Spanish speaker--although most are understandable within the context of the sentence or paragraph. Of course, the use of Spanish words makes the novel more interesting and believable, too. The pace of the story does become slower towards the end of the novel; otherwise, the pace moves quickly and is easy to read. I would highly recommend this to a book club--it lends itself to countless discussions of history, immigration, current political happenings, love of family and complications of the human experience.
  • Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)


    Family history as a mosaic
    The House of Broken Angels is the story of a multi-generational Mexican-American family, straddling the border in both time and space. History is gradually revealed by flashbacks. I struggle with nonlinear narratives. I re-started my reading a short way into the book so that I could compile a running biography and genealogy of the characters. There is much to like in this book. The characters will be real people to you by the end of the book, simultaneously dysfunctional and heroic. There is wonderful word-smithing ... sentences, phrases, and pages to be copied or flagged. The House of Broken Angels might be a model for family history as a mosaic, with small stories as tiles.
  • Lynn H. (Tucson, AZ)


    The House of Broken Angels
    I was very excited to get this book, but it turned out to be a disappointment for me. I loved The Hummingbirds Daughter and looked forward to being in love with Urrea's new novel. The Humminbird's Daughter had such lovely and mystical writing. Broken Angels was a good story but I just couldn't relate to the characters. I'm sure others will like this book.
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