Title: Neruda on the Park
Author: Cleyvis Natera
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Genre: Fiction, Multicultural
The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.
Why This Book
Neruda on the Park is about a Dominican mother and daughter who left the Dominican Republic for a fictional primarily Dominican neighborhood in NYC approximately two decades before. When a luxury condo building starts to go up in their neighborhood, the families are forced out. While the mother fights tooth and nail, her daughter is more complacent as she and her father keep a secret and she embarks on a romance with the man responsible for the building, putting mother and daughter at odds.
I’ve chosen this novel not because of either woman, but because of a minor character. The younger brother of Luz’s childhood friend, he spends the entire novel slowly transitioning from he to they. The change is slow and is accepted by some and somewhat mocked by others, but I loved how true they stayed to who they were. It was a nice thread woven through the entire story, even if the main story has the potential to almost completely eclipse it.
My review: “Neruda on the Park is a beautiful story not just of a mother and daughter, but of gentrification, race, class, family, and finding one’s own path forward. This story really packs it in, but I never felt like it was rushed”
Rachel from Life of a Female Bibliophile rated it a 4 and said this is “lyrically written, emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking”
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