Engel has an eye for detail. She knows how to drown the reader in a sense of enchantment... She writes exquisite moments.”Roxane Gay, The Nation
Reina Castillo is the alluring young woman whose beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community, throwing a baby off a bridgea crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. With her brother's death, though devastated and in mourning, Reina is finally released from her prison vigil. Seeking anonymity, she moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto’s love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family's troubled history, and in their companionship, begins to find freedom from the burden of guilt she carries for her brother’s crime.
Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia, with The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured lives finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Engel does a masterful job at creating an intricate yet realistic story plot and developing well thought out characters. The main protagonist, Reina, is vivid, alive, complex, compassionate, taking the reader through each of these sentiments in a well-researched and heart wrenching story, signature of the author's writing style. The vivid descriptions of Miami, Havana, Cartagena, the Florida Keys and the detail behind the scenes of Carlito's prison visits, the Dolphinarium and the Yoruba religion, among others, are evident of the extensive research and passion explored by the author during the creation of this wonderful literary work. Well done!
It was difficult to establish a relationship with the characters for a while. But I thought the author was lyrical and am glad I continued reading. I grew to love the two main characters and how two divergent souls came together. It's about all the things important to our lives: love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness. To all this was added the plight of Cuban immigrants to Florida and the anguishing choices they make to leave everything behind for what they hope is a better life for their family, even if that family is left behind at first.
What a great new voice Patricia Engel is becoming. I read this along with Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz's Drown and this book was clearly the better read. Veins was one of my favorite books of 2016. Engel's version of hard truths for an immigrant family has much more character arc in the protagonist's journey, and the story develops better than Diaz's. The writing was simple and stellar. The protagonist narrates the story in first person in a matter-of-fact way that doesn't scream "call me a victim." The protagonist doesn't want pitty, she wants to take you on her journey. Great job, Ms. Engel! I'm buying Vida next.
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