Thank you Avid Reader Press @avidreaderspress for the #gifted copy of The Faraway World by Patricia Engel. #partner
This book blew me away. Somehow, Engel was able to capture hundreds of years' worth of history in a few hundred pages. The Faraway World is a collection of ten short stories centered around Latinx folks. Each story has different characters with a different set of challenges, but each has its own theme, including migration, moral compromise and sacrifice. Each involves racial stereotypes and systemic racism faced by the Latinx community. Right off the bat, the first story floored me and left me speechless. I was immediately sucked in. Like any short story collection, some stories were stronger than others, but each touched on such poignant immigration topics. I found myself devouring this book, both wanting to know what happens with each character, but also terrified of what I would find.
What stood out to me the most was reflecting on the title of this book. "The Faraway World" is an introspective take on the stories housed inside. For many, immigration issues seem like a distant reality. But that is far from the truth. It touches more than we know. The Latinx grocery clerk you see every Sunday when you get your groceries may have family outside the US who are struggling to come over to join her. The family who moved in next door who seems to have multiple generations under one roof might have escaped countless horrors to get to where they are. There are so many hidden stories out there. A perfect complement to this book is The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (click the title link for review.) I highly recommend both.
My favorite stories in The Faraway World:
Aida: A teenage girl grapples with her missing sister, their community who initially rallies and eventually fades off, leaving her another missing/murdered Brown girl.
Fausto: A cash-strapped couple hustles in Miami, to life-altering ends.
Guapa: A story of a woman who indulges in plastic surgery to create the best version of herself, only to have it taken away from her.
The Bones of Cristobal Colon: In Cuba, a woman discovers her deceased brother's bones have been stolen, and the love of her life returns from Ecuador for a one-night visit.
Libelula: A young woman is employed as a housekeeper for a wealthy woman who is laced with microaggressions and stereotypes.