America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo. I’m gripped.
Megan O'Grady of Vogue summarizes the plot.
At the center of the novel is Hero (short for Gerónima), a daughter of privilege who was once destined for a high-status life as a doctor, but who ran away instead to become a medic for the New People’s Army, an insurgent Communist guerrilla group. A decade later, with a pair of broken thumbs (as well as less visible torments, like her rejection by her upper-class parents), she arrives in Milpitas, California, a San Francisco suburb where her favorite uncle, Pol, lives with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, Roni, a pugnacious playground feminist with a ravaging case of eczema. It’s the early 1990s, and as Hero comes slowly back to life with the help of Roni and her family (and eventually, a pretty makeup artist named Rosalyn), we see a larger community’s way of life, conveyed in the kind of sharp-edged noticing—“bruja” faith healers, Nestlé formula as breakfast staple, a clay model of a Spanish mission built on a pizza box—that’s second nature for those well-accustomed to code-switching between class and culture.
I hope she writes another book soon.
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