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The Things We Didn't Know - Book Review

Updated: Feb 13

📚 Book Review 📚

Title: The Things We Didn’t Know

Author: Elba Iris Perez

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Historical + Literary Fiction

Thank you to @bookclubfavorite #bookclubfavoritesinsider + @gallerybooks for the copy of The Things We Didn’t Know that published last week. Friends, is this book on your radar? If it isn’t, it absolutely needs to be!

The prose of this book may feel quiet in tone, the pace at times slower like a Sunday drive, but the message feels loud and clear. This book is a coming of age story for two young children seen all the way through until they are young adults, during the 1960s as they straddle two identities. One where they are American, and raised in the isolated town of Woronoco, Massachusetts. The only thing there are homes owned by the paper mill that their father works for. Almost all the families who live in this community they call the “Beehive” are Puerto Rican families like theirs. Being Puerto Rican is, of course their other identity, one that they are proud of, one that their father has a choke hold on how they will be raised and what they are allowed to do.

“This was the first time in my life my identity had been questioned, and it became obvious that I didn’t know how to name who I was.”

Told from the POV of daughter Andrea, the story starts when she and brother Pablo are taken by their mother back to Puerto Rico. Andrea and Pablo live in Puerto Rico for nearly a year, but not actually with their mother. She drops them off with family members and no promises to return. There are many hardships, but they make sweet memories too.

After coming back to Woronoco, it’s a coming of age story about socially fitting in vs. family values, celebrating the good with the bad, and getting your heart broken a little a long the way. This story while it does make mentions of Vietnam, racisms, music, and pop culture; it’s ultimately a look at a different side of a life during the 1960s. I really enjoyed this and when I wasn’t reading it, was eager to get back and see what was going to happen to these characters and family. 4.25⭐️

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