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Read Around the World July 2020: Dominican Republic

DominicanRepublic-map_123RF38616560_mlMap credit

July took us to the sunny Caribbean. What did we find to amuse ourselves there?

Fun facts about the Domincan Republic from this website:

  • The Dominican Republic comprises of 31 provinces which are further divided into municipalities. It is the second largest nation in the Caribbean.
  • The capital is Santo Domingo which is the oldest permanent settlement in the Western Hemisphere that was founded in 1496.
  • The official language spoken in the Dominican Republic is Spanish although English, Italian, French and German are also spoken all over the country.
  • The country got its independence on August 16, 1865. It is known as the bread basket of the Caribbean because it grows farms and catches almost everything that is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • The national game of the country is baseball. Some of the world’s best baseball players are Dominicans.
  • The country experiences a tropical climate with seasonal changes in temperature. Rainfall varies according to seasons.
  • The Dominican Republic is noted for the invention of the ‘merengue’ style of music which is all about fast-paced dance music.
  • Coffee is a national non-alcoholic drink and the most popular Dominican coffee is Cafe Santo Domingo. This country is one of the top ten producers of cocoa in the world.
  • The Dominical Republic has its own currency called the Dominican peso.
  • Catholicism is the predominant religion current in the Dominican Republic.

I chose to visit the Dominican Republic via Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 has to 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, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, 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.

My thoughts: I loved the afterword where Cruz explains that the book is based on the experiences of her mother a women who asked “Who would be interested in a story about a woman like me? It’s so typical.” The answer to that question is me,me,me. I was definitely interested in this story and for me at least it was not typical.

Ana is an easy character to fall in love with, she is charmingly simple and naive, she is also very human in her thoughts, her feelings and her decision making. I loved the way she wants to be the best person she can no matter what happens and she always wants to believe the best in people.

I loved watching Ana become her own person. Her struggles with English felt real as did her realisation that culturally New York is very different from her home. I loved the fact that while America was supposed to be the dream destination Ana never stops longing for the warmth and slower pace of life of home. While most of the story takes place with Ana in New York events in the Dominican Republic are covered and it is heart-breaking to see what foreign interference does to domestic politics.

There are also powerful female relationships represented throughout and while it is not always clear during the story the ending makes it clear that girls will stick together and any man who tries to get in the way of that had better beware.

Some of my favourite quotes:

“Mama has lived long enough to learn a man doesn’t know what he thinks until a woman makes him think it.”

“Outside the window the river glistens, the sky – early morning blue, but not like back home. New York’s blue slices right through the skin.”

“You’re my wife, my princess. Really? I thought of myself more as the flat-chested sister who had to do most of the chores.”

“Like all men who don’t want to see a woman cry, Cesar lies.”

4 stars from me I will miss spending time with Ana but I am glad I took the time to visit.

Other readers chose to visit in the following ways:

Rockpools on Litsy – Before we Were Free by Julia Alvarez rated pick.

TorieStorieS on Litsy – The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat rated pick.

Currey on Litsy – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Daz rated pick.

Did you join us on our trip? How did you choose to visit? Have you read any of our choices and what did you make of them? Let us know.

Next stop – Gambia let us know your reading plans.

 

 

 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Currey #

    The library was not particularly helpful when it came to authors from Gambia. I found Sally Sadie Singhateh’s The Sun Will Soon Shine, which is short. I thought I would supplement it with the non-fiction The Gambia by PaNDerry M’B if I have time.

    Like

    July 29, 2020
  2. I’ll be reading ‘Reading the Ceiling’ by Dayo Forster. Not entirely sure if it’s my thing, but options were limited (I still can’t reserve from beyond my local library). I loved the Julia Alvarez book, so this is going to have a lot to live up to!

    Like

    July 29, 2020

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