Read advance reader review of The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado, page 3 of 4

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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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  • Reid B. (Seattle, WA)
    El amor es todo
    Ruben Degollado has a well-regarded young adult novel, Throw, to his credit, and has published many stories, so it is not precisely accurate to call this his debut, yet it definitely has that feel to it. By this I do not mean that it is in any way amateurish—it is far from that— but that it has the feel of a book written with all of his soul, as if it is this that had been yearning to get out of him since he began to write.

    I read an advance reader copy of this book and the description on the cover of it says, "Stories," whereas the version on websites says "A Novel." This feel curiously accurate. Because it deals with the ups and downs, ins and outs, of a single family, though these are individual stories it is as if we have been given an impressionistic view of the whole through the brushstrokes of the parts; even if the picture may not be complete, we know what we have seen. Of course, a ready compromise is available for this naming conundrum; this would not be the first book to be called "a novel in stories." In the end it hardly matters, as we have immersed ourselves into the center of this loving, frustrating, religious, profane family and regret having to leave them when we are done. This is a community of people, enmeshed, supportive, resentful, petty, warm, and cold. But as is demonstrated time and again, no matter what animosity they may have between them, if a threat from outside the family shows itself, they will come together to vanquish it.

    There are disagreements, there are religious differences, there are curses and miracles. But what binds the Izquierdo family—and this novel in stories—together is love, pure and simple. What a gift Ruben Degollado has given us.
  • Norma R. (Secaucus, NJ)
    The Family
    The Family Izquierdo is a collection of short stories about a Mexican American family that lives in McAllen Texas. The stories are each told by one member of the three generations. The family is held together by both love and a strong belief that they have been cursed by a rival business owner. I appreciated reading the family history from different viewpoints. Every person gave the impression that the curse was real and caused the family great harm to all the relations. The book was entertaining and effortless to read because I could finish one story and break away.
  • Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)
    The Family Izquierdo
    I was excited to read The Family Izquierdo. I found the storyline intriguing and the characters interesting and well-developed. However, the amount of the book written in Spanish was off-putting to me. While most of the time the context clues were enough to give an idea of what was being said in Spanish, I found it distracting not to know exactly what was being said. I even surrounded myself with Spanish dictionaries fully prepared to embrace the language challenge. A small addition of simple translations by the author would have been welcomed.
  • Jodi S. (Goldens Bridge, NY)
    Not for Me
    I love short stories, so I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately I did not. I didn't find a cohesiveness to the stories, except that the characters were related. But because there are so many family members, some characters only appear in one or two stories and the reader doesn't learn their connection to anyone else. And there are main characters from stories that don't even appear on the family tree!

    I didn't find many of the characters relatable or endearing, and I felt that mental health issues were attributed to situations that belie their importance. Life has its ups and downs, but there were very few happy stories about the Izquierdo family in this book. Some people might find the stories more relatable and not mind the disconnect, but it just wasn't for me.
  • Karen S. (Allston, MA)
    Total is less than the sum of the parts
    I expected to enjoy this book more as I like novels set in the Mexican culture and geography. The writing is lovely in many places, but I felt that the author kept the reader at a distance from all of the characters. The device of switching between characters and time frames in each chapter may have been intended to tie things together, but it did not accomplish this for me. I found it disjointed. The extensive details about religious matters seemed a bit overdone— and outweighed the more interesting exploration of redemption and forgiveness. The mental health struggles of various characters were treated almost casually, which was odd given the impact of these struggles on the lives of individuals and the entire family.

    That said, the Izquierdo family is quite interesting and another rendering of their story and curses might capture my interest.
  • Margot P. (Mandeville, LA)
    Strangely flat
    I often gravitate towards multigenerational family tales and enjoy the linked short story format. This story of a Mexican family trying to live their lives in south Texas while under the evil curse of a neighbor, had all the makings of an exciting, emotional experience. While Degollado, is a skilled writer, and there were a few sentences that caused a lump in my throat, not enough detail was revealed to emotionally move the reader. And the closing chapter takes place in Oregon???
    See that the book is going to be released as a novel and not stories. Think this is a bad move and will change reader expectations in a negative way.
  • Joane W. (Berlin, MD)
    The Family Izquierdo
    This book is a cultural examination of a Mexican family whose fears and beliefs in superstitions and curses has caused angst in each of the characters. The book is divided into stories that represent 3 generations of this family each with their own form of paranoia. I enjoyed the book but due to its mountain of Spanish it took longer to read.

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