I recently wrote and wanted to share this review of Marisel's book If I Bring You Roses published by Grand Central Publishing ISBN 978-0-446-57153-1
If I Bring You Roses is more than a love story powerfully and insightfully told. It is also a story about how class and ethnic discrimination impact relationships between men and women. The message is important; the writing is masterful. The entire novel is written in third person narrative but the narrative voice changes with the perspective of the completely believable and engaging characters. In Part One, the author uses exquisitely poetic and rythmnic language to tell the story of a simple Puerto Rican country girl, Felicidad Hidalgo and leads the reader into the growing girl’s pure and loving heart so we not only observe but experience the anxieties, and the yearnings in her life. In the next part she tells the story from the perspective of the more psychologically complex Anibal Acevedo, a young Puerto Rican man who has come to the U.S mainland with big dreams only to be disappointed, exploited and disrespected in the workplace. The author then moves into an authentic male voice that allows the reader to understand the conflicts in the heart and mind of a man who uses sexual conquest to assuage the pain he feels over his inability to become the man he dreamed of being. Subsidiary characters are rendered with the same authenticity and detail as the two primary characters so every interaction rings true. Using vivid descriptions of places and events and very real dialogue, the author immerses the reader in the Puerto Rican culture both on the island and in the Chicago neighborhood where Felicidad moves to be with Anibal. We see these two within the contexts of their families and communities and we see how these families and communities sometimes guide, sometimes complicate and sometimes assist the two young people who must learn to navigate not only the cold, unfamiliar terrain of Chicago but the frighteningly unfamiliar terrain of a constantly changing future. In the end both of them are guided by their essentially good hearts into a future that the reader has hope will be a rewarding one.
I highly recommend this book to readers interested in romance grounded in reality, in Latina culture, in civil and human rights for all people regardless of gender, race or ethnicity and to readers who are just interested in reading a really good, engrossing book. I also think it would make an excellent addition to reading lists for college classes in Womens’ Studies, Latina studies and classes in Latin American literature.