The Family Izquierdo: Book summary and reviews of The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado

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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About this book

Book Summary

A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

The tight-knit Izquierdo family is grappling with misfortunes none of them can explain. Their beloved patriarch has suffered from an emotional collapse and is dying; eldest son Gonzalo's marriage is falling apart; daughter Dina, beleaguered by the fear that her nightmares are real, is a shut-in. When Gonzalo digs up a strange object in the backyard of the family home, the Izquierdos take it as proof that a jealous neighbor has cursed them―could this be the reason for all their troubles? As the Izquierdos face a distressing present and an uncertain future, they are sustained by the blood that binds them, a divine presence, and an abiding love for one another. Told in a series of soulful voices brimming with warmth and humor, The Family Izquierdo is a tender narrative of a family at a turning point.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Throughout, Degollado convincingly portrays the family's mix of faith, superstition, and intergenerational volatility, and immerses the reader into a porous blend of English and Spanish. This is a gem." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An instant Tejano classic." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Rubén Degollado has written an open-hearted work of witness, love, and triumph. We have come far. And this brave novel reminds us of where we have to go. Anyone with a family will find themselves in these pages." - Luis Alberto Urrea

"In The Family Izquierdo, every story is a revelation. Rubén Degollado's storytelling is as rigorous as it is intricate. Intimate and epic, it brims with magic and spirit. A bold, beautiful debut!" - Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"With a delicate and perceptive understanding of humanity and the ties which bind community to history, Rubén Degollado has painted a portrait of sincere love in The Family Izquierdo. This book feels like coming home to a warm embrace, where the characters and land leap off the page and into our hearts." - Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Woman of Light

This information about The Family Izquierdo 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.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Mary Ann G

Perfect Read for Hispanic Heritage Month
The patriarch of this tight knit but imperfect family is on his death bed. The family Izquierdo reflects on the past that has made them who they are, the present which at times seems clear but incomprehensible, and of their hopes for future generations. The book is told as a collection of vignettes, which are intended to be experienced as if you are part of the family, sharing in the intimate stories, oral history and mythology of the Izquierdo’s. These are heartfelt tales of fortitude and resilience, successes and misfortunes, betrayals and forgiveness, miracles and curses as seen through the eyes of various family members. But mostly, these narratives are about the love that endures and binds them to one another.

In the author’s acknowledgements, he gives “thanks to the first people who lived in what we now call the Río Grande Valley of Texas, the Mexican Americans who lived here when it was still the country of their birth, and those who came after when it wasn’t.” These are stories that warmed my heart, made me laugh and deserve to be told. Reading parts of The Family Izquierdo made me feel nostalgic for an earlier time in my life. I felt like I was sitting around my mother’s table with all the tias making tortillas and spilling the latest family gossip, while my father and tios fired up the grill in the back yard. The stories, places, language, music and supernatural tales all felt like home. If these are not your roots, Degollado has opened the door for you and welcomes you to the table.

Lizmarie, Erlanger, KY

Family Life
Ruben Degollado's debut collection of tightly linked short stories, The Family Izquierdo, is a masterpiece in both its construction and content. Short stories are not my favorite genre, but these are so well-written and so skillfully connected that each one flows seamlessly into the next, creating a compelling narrative. Each story focuses on richly drawn characters and defining events in the lives of three generations of one Mexican-American family in the Rio Grande Valley. Degollado writes with passion and deep respect for Izquierdo family members, their love, their faith, their imperfections and their grief. Readers will see their own families on each page. Book clubs will find many topics to discuss: cultural and religious values; relationships among siblings and between parents and children; the importance of family rituals and traditions; and the consequences of fear and grief.

Cassandra W. (Alameda, CA)

Heart-lifting!
Heart-lifting - a work of love, hope and authenticity. A short story collection of a multi-generational Mexican American family written with soul! An easy read.

Sue D

Family
The format of this book was a little off putting at first, but I grew to love the connected short story format, as that seems to be representative of this family's dynamic. They are a large and disparate bunch, but love each other fiercely, and even though they have difficulties, they persevere.

Susan W, Detroit, MI

Do people hope things will never change?
This book was captivating. It moved the characters and timeline along with its short story format, which I appreciated. At times I had difficulty with so much of the dialog being in Spanish, but eventually the rhythm of the story let me move past words I didn't know; it didn't seem to matter.

The relationships of the family members were well captured. They felt personal to me, as an Asian American, yet anyone could relate to many of the characters. It was an intimate look into another culture and at times other faiths. The author firmly, yet delicately told the story of a multigenerational family, how their lives are bound together by more than just their culture. While this is not unique to people whose beliefs are full of superstition, the Izquierdo family struggles with holding onto their past and adapting to life in America at the same time. I am struck by this sentence, "Dina spends her days thinking about the past because she has always wanted to hold onto the present, hoping things would never change."

I think this would be an excellent book club book.

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

family
What an interesting book told in separate stories but intertwining the Izquierdo family tree. A family living on the American border of Mexico, they suffer through their family "curse" with love and affection for each other. Even though they have many conflicts with the outside world and each other. I loved the Spanish used throughout the stories as it made them more authentic, and made me look things up as I read, so actually learned something new!
I loved the generational tales and how the family members related to each other and especially to their Abuelito and Papa Tavo. Really an enjoyable read!

...20 more reader reviews

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More Information

Rubén Degollado is an educator from Texas and the author of The Family Izquierdo: A Novel and the young adult novel Throw. His fiction has appeared in Beloit Fiction JournalGulf CoastHayden's Ferry Review, and Image.

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