Saturday, December 21, 2013

Flowers In the Sky, by Lynn Joseph

Nina has always been happy with her flower garden and her quiet life in Samana, on the coast of the Dominican Republic.  But after her mother catches Nina in a compromising position, mami is determined that Nina will go to New York and live with her older brother Darrio.  Darrio has lived in the North for many years, sending a steady stream of money home, and Mom is convinced that Nina will find great fortune there, by marrying a rich doctor or baseball player.

What Nina finds is that life in Washington Heights (where all the Dominican immigrants live) is nowhere as easy as her mother thinks it is.  It's a rough life and it takes a while for Nina to make friends and find a place.  A young man named Luis with a secret past captures her heart but Darrio doesn't like him and won't explain why.  Meanwhile, Darrio has secrets of his own and Nina realizes that the beautiful life of the USA comes with dangers and a dark side.

All of which probably makes the story sound cliche.  However, there's a gentleness and honesty to the book that makes it stand out a bit.  Nina acclimates to her new environment, but maintains a strong sense of self and a strong moral center (loyalty, beauty, and love) that make her interesting as a person.  The story ties up sweetly in the end, but with just enough messiness to make it believable.  A good read.

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