Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester

I love fantasy stories. I love when there’s someone risking everything they have and love for the better of a group or nation of people. I love people who fight against adversity and maybe they don’t always win, but they don’t quit. And while stories like this one aren’t fantasy, it’s the heroism and strength of its characters that make you wonder if fantasy is based on real life.

Here’s more about the book

35233730The first time Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, he’s already dead—an apparition appearing uninvited on her wedding day. Her husband, Martin, still unforgiving for having been abandoned by his father years ago, confesses that he never knew the old man had died. So Omar asks Isabel for the impossible: persuade Omar’s family—especially his wife, Elda—to let him redeem himself.

Isabel and Martin settle into married life in a Texas border town, and Omar returns each year on the celebratory Day of the Dead. Every year Isabel listens, but to the aggrieved Martin and Elda, Omar’s spirit remains invisible. Through his visits, Isabel gains insight into not just the truth about his disappearance and her husband’s childhood but also the ways grief can eat away at love. When Martin’s teenage nephew crosses the Mexican border and takes refuge in Isabel and Martin’s home, questions about past and future homes, borders, and belonging arise that may finally lead to forgiveness—and alter all their lives forever.

I picked up this book for my bookstagram book club, @words.between.worlds. I don’t think I would have picked up this book if it wasn’t for them and that reality kind of makes me sad. Because this book rings so truly to my family and probably many other families living in America.

Isabel sees her husband’s father for the first time on her wedding day (which also happened to be the Day of the Dead). However, what she was seeing wasn’t the corporeal version of him. Instead, she was being visited by his spirit on the day she’s married to wish them happiness and congratulations.

Sadly, Martin, Isabel’s husband, doesn’t really acknowledge him and neither does his mother or sister. It’s because in some moment in their past their father had disappointed their family so much that they don’t even acknowledge he ever existed. But you know from the remorseful way he talks that there’s a secret there and the rest of the story is a journey to the truth.

The most interest part of this book is how it’s presented. The chapters switch off between what’s happening in the present and what happened in the past. The past stories are filled with turmoil and struggle of a family who snuck across the Mexican-American border. You read about their money problems. You read about how they try to hide themselves from the police. You even read about how they hid in the truck of a car barely able to breathe. You also read how dangerous the journey is and how it’s not just some jump over a fence. They are risking their lives for a little bit more freedom.

If anything, this part of the story was the most haunting part. Being born in America, I never have to worry about being caught by the police and walking on eggshells everyday. In all honesty, I feel doubly privileged to be a person of color born in America. However, I can’t say the same for some of my relatives who are living here on green cards or just stayed past their visa expirations.

And in this part of the story, you get it. You see how they did the best they could with what they were offered. They cleaned toilets and they made difficult decisions and they tried to give their kids everything they wanted because they wanted the best for them. You get to witness the immigrant experience and even with only a few opportunities open to them, they never make themselves feel like immigrants. They try to live the American life.

I think what’s haunting about this whole story is the danger of it all. There’s always this lingering possibility that the police or ICE will appear one day and deport Omar and Elda. You keep thinking it’s going to happen when Martin and Claudia end up one of those kids stuck in a cage. The story’s connection to recent events creates relevancy to both what’s going on in this country and what some immigrant families might be thinking.

In the end, you find out everything which is nice. You come to understanding why Martin’s father left. You find out what happened to him after he disappeared. Everything gets wrapped up, but it’s definitely not the most elegant present you’ve seen. Like reality, heroics always come with a little bit of sacrifice. Knights slay dragons but lose their arm in the process. Dreams do come true, but you lose a little something in the process. Freedom isn’t always entirely free.

And I like that about this story. It presents the danger and the dysfunction and how it’s not all that easy. I feel like this is the story you rarely read even though it’s the reality of the world some days.

  • Hardcover, 334 pages
  • Little A (March 13, 2018)
  • Rating: 4/5 Stars
  • Find Everyone Knows You Go Home on Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

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