The House of Broken Angels

The House of Broken Angels

A Novel

Book - 2018
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70-year-old patriarch Big Angel de la Cruz is dying, and he wants to have one last birthday blowout. Unfortunately, his 100-year-old mother, America, dies the week of his party, so funeral and birthday are celebrated one day apart. The entire contentious, riotous de la Cruz clan descends on San Diego for the events--"High rollers and college students, prison veternaos and welfare mothers, happy kids and sad old-timers and pinches gringos and all available relatives." Not to mention figurative ghosts of the departed and an unexpected guest with a gun. Taking place over the course of two days, with time out for an extended flashback to Big Angel's journey from La Paz to San Diego in the 1960s, the narrative follows Big Angel and his extended familia as they air old grievances, initiate new romances, and try to put their relationships in perspective.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316154895
031615489X
9780316154888
0316154881
Characteristics: 326 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Across one bittersweet weekend in their San Diego neighborhood, revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of family patriarch Miguel "Big Angel" De La Cruz and his mother, and recounting the many tales that have passed into family lore.

"In this raucous, moving, and necessary story by a Pulitzer Prize finalist, the De La Cruzes, a family on the Mexican-American border, celebrate two of their most beloved relatives during a joyous and bittersweet weekend."


From the critics


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m
mnack_0
Aug 17, 2020

I finished reading this and thought to myself, "And...?? What's the point?" I think the point was to honor the life of someone important to the author? And, in the process, paint a portrait of life in America for an extended family of Mexican immigrants - many of whom are undocumented; how being undocumented affects their lives. The writing utilizes some elements of "magical realism" along with "ghetto Spanglish" to provide texture and verisimilitude.

k
kcw02
Jun 20, 2020

Half way through this was going nowhere. very negative presentation of family life. Not a book for reading during Covid time.

j
janerf
Feb 26, 2020

Not funny. Not big hearted.
Disgusting.
If this is the definitive Mexican story, I am thoroughly disgusted by Mexican culture.
Big Angel doesn't want to hurt his children, but he has a duty to do so.
Mothers and grandmothers spread their legs under the table so that the little boys there can see all the way up.
Antonio flogging Angel just about made me throw up. (a little less than half-way through, before the'big party.')
Plus all the bed hopping in general.
Catholic priests who do not sound like any Catholic priest I've ever known in my lifetime as a Catholic.
Disgusting family, disgusting culture, lawless nation.
But I'm not Mexican. SO I want to read a celebrated Mexican'American author.
Maybe if I was reading 'Serpico' or some other true-crime story, I'd reach the same conclusions about American culture. But the critics call this a 'definitive' book about Mexicans. I wanted new compassionate insights, not the worst of this benighted people.
And I find nothing redeeming. (not even good writing or plot development)
Pls, God, this is NOT what Mexican or Mexican-American culture is.
btw... a midlevel supervisor of a computer staff of a major utility is NOT poor.
Unless he as to foot the bill for a multitude of gangbangers and dope fiends...
btw... Cortez was NOT Anglo nor Celtic nor Anglo-Celtic. 1500 Medellin, Spain for pete sake. Cortez was from the west, but NOT Anglo nor Celtic.

p
peacebenow
Nov 10, 2019

I read to 27% and am giving up. I thoroughly enjoy Urrea's writing in the past. I think use of Spanish language enriches the his storyline. I wasn't able to connect with the Characters so reading wasn't enjoyable. Maybe I should have stuck w/ it or perhaps at a different time?

o
OG_RA
Oct 09, 2019

This was lyrically written and an absolutely compelling read!

m
MoKevany
Aug 18, 2019

I had high hopes for this book based on other reviews. However, I found it tedious and difficult to relate to the main characters. Maybe some translations of the Spanish peppering the book would have helped, but I got about one third of the way through then decided to shelve it - literally.

j
jillda
Aug 02, 2019

NYT Now Read This Club

Groszerita Mar 17, 2019

Urrea's writing is so deeply intimate, raw and real. Spanish and spanglish words are woven in, it's as if though I am an observer watching and hearing Big Angel's familia.
I feel for Little Angel and his sense of not feeling like familia, not feeling like he belongs, yet he knows he does. I see Big Angel's godfather status and feel sympathy for him.

n
nalahblueberry5
Mar 11, 2019

Thoroughly enjoyed this book

v
Vmcfadin
Feb 23, 2019

Didn’t finish this book. Unfortunately I am just learning Spanish so there were many words I had to look up. Doesn’t make for a fun reading experience.

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