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Book summary and reviews of The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

The Five Wounds

by Kirstin Valdez Quade

  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  •  Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
  • Jan 2022
    448 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

From an award-winning storyteller comes a stunning debut novel about a New Mexican family's extraordinary year of love and sacrifice.

Winner of The Center for Fiction's 2021 First Novel Prize
Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
Shortlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction


One of NPR's Best Books of the Year • A Publishers Weekly and Library Journal Best Book of the Year in Fiction • A Kirkus Reviews Best Fictional Family of the Year • A Booklist Top Ten Book-Group Book of the Year • A Goodreads Choice Awards Best Debut Novel Nominee

It's Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother's house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby's first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo's mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel's mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn't speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda's uncle and keeper of the family's history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn't think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as "legitimate masterpieces" (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

Named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021 by Oprah Magazine, The Week, The Millions, and Electric Lit.

First published in April 2021, paperback release January 2022

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Kirstin Valdez Quade's The Five Wounds is written from four different points of view. Why do you think we hear from these particular characters? Was there a character you felt particularly drawn to? Why?
  2. At the beginning of the novel Amadeo is resentful of his daughter Angel's arrival, thinking his mind should "be trained on sacrifice and resurrection" (p. 4) as he prepares for his role as Jesus in the Good Friday procession, a performance that Amadeo believes will redeem him. Over the course of the novel, in what ways does Amadeo come to recognize the redemption that is possible through fatherhood itself?
  3. The iconography and performances of Catholicism are poignant symbols within the novel. Were these symbols meaningful for you? ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] penetrating debut...The well-developed characters convey palpable emotion...Quade's rendering of a singular community is pitch perfect." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"With beautifully layered relationships and an honest yet profoundly empathetic picture of a rural community—where the families proudly trace their roots back to the Spanish conquistadors while struggling with poverty and a deadly drug epidemic—this novel is a brilliant meditation on love and redemption. Perfectly rendered characters anchor a novel built around a fierce, flawed, and loving family." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Expertly crafted, this story of family and community introduces us to often needy characters for whom readers come to care deeply. Highly recommended." - Library Journal (starred review)

"A masterful novel of family, faith, doubt. Quade's storytelling gift is her ability to capture the mysterious pulse of belief and ground them in visceral ritual on the page." - The Millions

"A gorgeously written, Franzen-caliber tale of one Latinx family's via dolorosa." - O Magazine

"You hold in your hands a small, complete universe vibrating with joy and grief, humor and absurdity and delight. All the fabulous mess of humanity is, somehow, in these pages. The Five Wounds is bighearted, tender, wise, and shot through with moments of pure grace." - C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

"I don't remember ever reading a novel as vibrant and warm as The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. Just a few pages in, I felt like I intimately knew the characters and cared about them as if they were family members. It's both heartbreaking and a joy to read!" - Lara Vapnyar, author of Divide Me by Zero

"In this cruel and divisive era, Kirstin Valdez Quade has brought healing and regeneration with The Five Wounds. It is bracing and wise, and it breaks us in the best ways. Then builds us back up again. It should find many grateful readers." - Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Broken Angels

"Kirstin Valdez Quade writes with exquisite precision about the fragility and resilience of the Padilla family…I loved The Five Wounds, which reminded me that growing pains are not confined to adolescence and that people can be newborn at any age. Even its most excruciating moments are charged with a luminous compassion." - Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories

This information about The Five Wounds was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kirstin Valdez Quade

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of Night at the Fiestas, winner of the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize. She is the recipient of a "5 Under 35" award from the National Book Foundation, the Rome Prize, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Originally from New Mexico, she now lives in New Jersey and teaches at Princeton University.

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