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The Family Izquierdo

A Novel

by Rubén Degollado

The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado X
The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado
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  • Published Sep 2022
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

    Paperback Original.
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There are currently 25 member reviews
for The Family Izquierdo
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  • Shirley T. (Comfort, TX)
    The Family Izquierdo
    This is a complex and unusual work presenting connected stories linking members of a large Mexican American family living on the Texas side of the Border.

    The loving relationships between the family members remains strong, even while they struggle with their fate and the conflict between their ancient pagan beliefs and the Catholic faith of their modern heritage.

    The author successfully shows how each member of the family deals with the issues of life on the Border and the misfortunes which complicate their lives. These misfortunes are blamed on a strong curse imposed on the family.

    Using many Spanish words and phrases in the story is a successfully way of making the novel authentic although it is challenging for readers who do not understand Spanish. I found that this makes the characters very real and believable in a rich, human tale.
  • Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)
    La Familia
    Sometimes we come across a book that transforms our understanding. Having lived in the Southwest for many years, the scenes were familiar -- large, noisy family gatherings, low riders roaring down the street on Saturday night, sometimes too much booze, shopping across the river at the mercado, candles celebrating santos available at every grocery store, La Posada at Christmas, hiring a curandero to drive out perceived evil spirits, the evolution of traditional Mexican values into twenty-first century America.

    Octavio and Lupe Izquierdo have the vision to build a home to last for generations in border town McAllen, Texas. Hard-working Tavo strives to make life better for their many children, building a home, starting a family business to be carried on by his sons; but when he becomes convinced that he is cursed by his neighbor, life changes for the family.

    The musical lilt of Spanglish voices weaves together three generations of the family and I grew to love them, warts and all, in this collection of short stories.
  • Stephanie K. (Glendale, AZ)
    Family That Could Be Yours
    The Family Izquierdo relates the story of how a curse put on them by a jealous neighbor both divides and unites the family members. Each chapter is a piece of the puzzle told by a different Izquierdo and encompassing a different period in the family's history. The chapters are both intriguing and even shocking, and you'll hate leaving the Izquierdos when the book ends.
  • Jill S. (Durham, NC)
    Linked Stories About A Family Bound by Love
    Families, it is said, are like branches on a tree. They grow in different directions, yet their roots remain as one.

    Meet the Izquierdo family. With my smattering of college Spanish, I know that izquierdo means from the left or left-handed. Who knew that it also meant "you have always been cursed"? Certainly, the Izquierdos feel that way. Papa Tavo, the family's patriarch, believes strongly that his neighbor Emiliano Contreras has placed a curse on him and his family because of his jealousy of his fortune.

    In reality? The Izquierdo family – and we meet various members of it, who take their place on the stage in linked chapters – is a colorful and imperfect mixture of disparate personalities that somehow morph into one unit with the same roots.

    Ruben Degollado convincingly brings these family members to life: those who have fallen prey to the excesses of religion or superstition (which, in my mind, too often are one and the same), the struggles to claim one's place in the family order, the jealousies and flirtations, the boisterous gatherings, the stories – some real, some invented – that ultimately define our history and who we are. And also the songs of courage, joy, and love that weave through the stories.

    Despite the individual stories that distinguish each character, ultimately, it is the family that endures – whether it's a family with several branches or "a nation of two." My thanks to BookBrowse and W.W. Norton for enabling me to be an early reader in exchange for an honest review.
  • Beverly J. (Hoover, AL)
    Smart, Original and Completely Absorbing!
    A grippingly readable family saga using linked short stories to offer a riveting intimate glimpse into three generations of a Mexican American family as they experience the vicissitudes of life.
    The family tree at the beginning of the book was my foundation to delve into the lives of the wonderfully drawn characters with their keen sense of culture and their indomitable spirit that keeps families alive.
    In 1958, Octavio "Papa Tavo" Izquierdo and his pregnant wife Guadalupe "Abuelita" decide to settle in McAllen, Texas to fulfill the dreams of building a house and starting a business that will accommodate and support their future expanding family now and in the future. All was going well until a series of misfortunes happen believed caused by a curse.
    This tightknit family moves us with deep insights and trials, as love soothes them through the difficulties of life and the celebrations, traditions, and faith provides the bonds of what belonging means.
    A beautiful cover befits this heartful book and the Tejano culture tops off this genuine story.
  • Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
    Love Spanish in Book
    I appreciated the use of Spanish in the book as I am bilingual. However, it might have annoyed me if it were a language I didn't know. I wanted to love the book, but the short-story format developed the characters in a disjointed fashion in my mind. I gathered cultural understanding through the various vignettes which I liked. However, I would have preferred a straightforward more plotted story.
  • Frances N. (San Francisco, CA)
    Anguish below the surface
    On the surface, the Izquierdo family looks like the perfect border-crossing success story. The family has grown and prospered, but the individual stories are filled with tragedy and heartbreak. While not a fun read, the stories are real and compelling and relatable.

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