The Book Of Unknown Americans Summary and Study Guide

Cristina Henríquez

The Book Of Unknown Americans

  • 36-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 28 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an English instructor with a Master's degree in English
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The Book Of Unknown Americans Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 36-page guide for “The Book Of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henríquez includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 28 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Machoism and Cultural Isolation.

Plot Summary

Told through a host of different voices and perspectives, The Book of Unknown Americans examines the experiences of Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. and presents their stories in a full and varied light. The central focus is the Rivera family, who has travelled from Mexico in order to get better schooling for their teenaged daughter, Maribel. Maribel suffers from a brain injury as the result of a fall from a ladder. Her parents, Arturo and Alma, hope that American special education will help Maribel return to her own self. As it turns out, the real assistance comes from a neighbor boy, Mayor Toro, who falls in love with Maribel. Mayor’s family becomes deeply entwined in the lives of their new neighbors and helps them adjust to American culture, sharing faith, food and camaraderie.

When Maribel is sexually assaulted by Garrett, a white boy from a nearby neighborhood, Alma becomes all the more even protective of her fragile daughter. Egged on by a meddling neighbor, Quisaqueya, who was herself a victim of sexual assault, Alma and Arturo decide to forbid Mayor and Maribel’s relationship. They effectively convince Mayor’s parents to do the same. The plan backfires and the teenagers cut school to be together. When Maribel doesn’t come home from school at the scheduled time, Alma tells Arturo about the sexual assault, a secret she’d been keeping from him because she feels that she has again failed her daughter. Arturo goes out looking for Maribel and heads in the direction of Garrett’s home, thinking that Maribel may be with him. Garrett’s father shoots Arturo; shortly after, Arturo dies of his injuries. Maribel and Alma prepare to travel back home to Mexico, with Alma still reeling from her loss but aware that Maribel has regained some of her own self, thanks to her relationship with Mayor and her stay in the U.S.

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Chapters 1-4