Monday, April 14, 2014

The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar

I looked at the book cover art and figured it wasn't my kind of book, but since it came recommended by the O.C. Book Club I began to read it despite preconceived notions. I'm very glad I did. It begins as a quiet story involving an upper middle class family living in a new and large house on a beautiful hillside with a western view to the ocean. These folks represent the modern hectic lives of most of their neighbors. Their lives have become more dependent than they realize on an illegal immigrant housekeeper. 

The housekeeper quickly becomes the focus of the novel. She is Mexican, young, big boned, anxious to please, and a very hard worker. In almost every way she is a satisfactory (slave) employee. She lives in one somewhat messy room, and she is underpaid, but she is quite loyal to the family.

The book is a story meant to describe the life (lives) of illegal Mexican immigrants. Millions of them. How they live. Their struggles and attitudes. Their often overlooked contributions to Californias society. The barriers erected to keep them at the edge of poverty.

The first half of the book sets the stage. The last half presents most of the difficulties a non-documented Mexican faces in California. The last half is a "page turner." that keeps a reader involved and curious.  This is a good book, well written, and an excellent read.

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