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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Yunior, a twelve-year-old boy whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, narrates this story, which takes place in northern New Jersey. Yunior and his family—his older brother Rafa, younger sister Madai, and his parents (whom he calls Mami and Papi)—are preparing to attend the party of Mami's sister, Tia Yrma, who has recently arrived in the Bronx from the Dominican Republic.

On the day of the party, Papi comes home and takes a shower, and Yunior believes it is to wash off the evidence that Papi has been with his Puerto Rican mistress. Mami has been looking forward to the party, but now she seems nervous. Papi becomes angry when he hears that Mami allowed Yunior to eat, as Yunior throws up from motion sickness in Papi's van. Papi lifts Yunior up by his ear, and the other children scatter, as they are used to Papi's brutality.

On the way to the Bronx, Yunior vomits. Papi is angry, and Mami allows Yunior to brush his teeth. They arrive at Tia's house, where Tio Miguel offers the kids drinks of beer and rum, to which Mami objects. As the parents get a tour of the apartment—which Yunior describes as "Contemporary Dominican Tacky—the kids hang out with Leti, who is Yunior's age, her younger brother Wilquins, and their neighbor Mari. Yunior wants the girls to pay attention to him, but they pay attention to Rafa instead. Yunior starts playing dominoes with Wilquins, who is mute. Yunior hears his father arguing in the kitchen, while his mother has a very quiet voice.

Yunior thinks back to the time when he met his father's Puerto Rican mistress. His father had taken him for a ride in the van to get him used to traveling without throwing up, but Yunior had vomited anyway. His father had taken him to his mistress's house to get cleaned up, and Yunior had watched TV while his father was upstairs with her.

When delicious Dominican food is served at the party, Papi tells Yunior not to eat. His aunt brings him outside, apparently to get some ice, but she slips him some pastelitos instead. She asks him how things are at home, but Yunior does not admit that his home life isn't good. Yunior thinks back to the time he and Rafa ate with the Puerto Rican woman and did not say anything to their mother. When they return to the party, the adults are dancing. Tia and Mami spend a lot of time talking. Papi and Mami are getting along, which is rare for them. Yunior recalls seeing a lovely photo of his mother before she was married, and she is smiling quietly in the picture. Yunior thinks back to the time when Mami asked him if something was wrong (when Yunior was upset after he had met the Puerto Rican woman). At the time, he lied and said he had gotten in trouble in school. When they leave the party, everyone is strangely calm, and Yunior sees his father put a hand on his mother's knee. Later, Yunior vomits again on the way home.

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