My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Audio Book Review: The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Prizewinning and bestselling writer Luis Urrea has written his Mexican coming-to-America story and his masterpiece. Destined to sit alongside other classic immigrant novels, THE HOUSE OF BROKEN ANGELS is a sprawling and epic family saga helmed by patriarch Big Angel. The novel gathers together the entire De La Cruz clan, as they meet for the final birthday party Big Angel is throwing for himself, at home in San Diego, as he nears the end of his struggle with cancer and reflects on his long and full life.

But when Big Angel's mother, Mama America, approaching one hundred, dies herself as the party nears, he must plan her funeral as well. There will be two family affairs in one weekend: a farewell double-header. Among the attendants is his half-brother and namesake, Little Angel, who comes face to face with the siblings with whom he shared a father but not, as the weekend proceeds to remind him, a life.

This story of the De La Cruzes is the story of what it means to be a Mexican in America, to have lived two lives across one border. It is a tale of the ravaging power of death to shore up the bits of life you have forgotten, whether by choice or not. Above all, this finely wrought portrait of a deeply complex family and the America they have come to call home is Urrea at his purest and best. Teeming with brilliance and humor, authentic at every turn, THE HOUSE OF BROKEN ANGELS cements his reputation as a storyteller of the first rank. 

Luis Alberto Urrea is one of my favorite authors.  He is the product of a Mexican father and a Caucasian mother, so I have feel an immediate kinship with his books.  The House of Broken Angels, I think is the author's most powerful book yet, and has quickly become my new favorite.  With a large cast of familial characters, Urrea perfectly captures the drama, and entertainment value, of Mexican family gatherings.

What I Liked:

This is a book where one MUST listen to the audio book to get the greatest enjoyment!!!  And the novel is narrated by no other than... The author, himself!  Hearing this book told in the author's voice brings to life every sentence with the perfect emphasis and intonation.   Urrea's delivery is at varying times funny, biting, and rather sexy!

Setting & Story:
The book is centered around a funeral, and then a blow-out birthday party for the main character, Big Angel.  Mexican milestones are big affairs, filled with music, food, laughter, and family drama.  With these occasions as a backdrop, we get to know all the members of the extended De La Cruz family.  Each has a compelling story.

All of the backstories converge into an epic event at the final birthday party of Big Angel.  The climatic scene is full of suspense, and loads of humor, as we see a series of events lead to a confrontation for the ages!  

The story is told from the point of view of the main character, Big Angel.  His observations of his family are full of love, and acid.  As his life is drawing to a close (he is dying of cancer), he thinks back on his life, his marriage, and his children.  He is both proud and full of regret.  

I loved the book's depiction of Angel and Pella's long marriage.  This is an enduring relationship full of love, sex, and appreciation.  While their habits may drive each other crazy, husband and wife are still in love.

But the story also takes turns with points of view's of each of Big Angel's family.  I loved how we learn more about Big Angel through all the other stories.  Put together, this is a rich tapestry of a large, wonderful family.


Release Date:  March 6th, 2018

Genre:  General Fiction

Publisher:  Hachette Audio

Narrator:  Luis Alberto Urrea

Listening Length:  9 Hours, 46 Minutes

Page Length:  336 Pages

Format:  Audio Book

Source: Public Library

Recommendation: A must read (listen) for fans of Luis Alberto Urrea.  This is a sweeping tale of a Mexican family.  I loved it.

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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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