“I read this in one sitting! A young girl is married to an older man and brought from Dominica to New York, a place where she does not even speak the language. It is the 1960s, a time when racial tensions are high and money is scarce. A dark story, wonderfully written, that celebrates the endurance of the human spirit against all odds.” Rebekah
Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she must say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them.
Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape.
But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay. As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, dance with Cesar at the Audubon Ballroom, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America.
When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family. In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.
‘This book is a valentine to my mom and all the unsung Dominicanas like her, for their quiet heroism in making a better life for their families, often at a hefty cost to themselves. Even if Dominicana is a Dominican story, it’s also a New York story, and an immigrant story. When I read parts of Dominicana at universities and literary venues both here and abroad, each time, audience members from all cultures and generations came up to me and said, this is my mother’s story, my sister’s story, my story’ Angie Cruz