The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

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Themes

Overall, the novel has a central theme of immigrant adjustment to American life. One migrant father, Arturo, cannot find appropriate work, and another couple can barely make ends meet after many years in the US. An important corollary of this theme is the biases that immigrants face, both in the legal system and from individuals.

Family love is one prominent theme, especially parents’ love for their children. The Rivera family—father, mother, and daughter—moves from Mexico so that their daughter, Maribel, who had a brain injury, can attend a special school. In their apartment building, they meet the Toro family, who had immigrated from Panama. The two mothers, Celia...

(The entire section is 221 words.)