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Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester book review

Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett book review

Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia  So the story begins on el dia de los muertos and you are following this couple who have just gotten married. Their names are isabel and martin. 

And Isabel is being Martin's dad for the very first time, except Martin's dad is a ghost. His name is Omar. 

He left the family, Martin's family, a number of years ago, like when Martin was a pretty small kid. Isabel obviously never met him and Martin had no idea that he had actually died. 

And so this is the first time Martin is really seeing him since he left the family. And it obviously creates a kind of tension but Isabel is you know polite and at least gets to meet him. And this event sort of starts off a series of events in this family's life. 

So like I said, the couple got married on el dia de los Muertos and you follow them and this family over the course of a couple of years, and every year on their wedding anniversary/el dia de Los Muertos, Omar shows up and visits Isabel and basically he has some like unresolved business with the family because you know he left a number of years ago. And no one in the family really knows why he left.

He gave a kind of a fake excuse to their mom but their mom doesn't really talk about it very much. And Martin has basically like not wanted to talk about it at all with his now wife, Isabel. 

Part of it is sort of figuring out what exactly is going on in this family but also there's like a lot of other things sort of going on in this storyline. I don't want to give too much away but a lot happens in this book. 

And between sort of like the modern-day storyline, you're also getting chapters of flashbacks to when Omar and his wife Elda first immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and what immigrating was alike for them, which was an extremely traumatic experience, and then also like what life was like for them living in the United States. 

So if you saw my weekly wrapup where I briefly talked about this book, you would have seen me basically just say how much I loved it and I still like really loved this book. Like I see this book sitting on my shelf and I just like think about well done it is. 

So there's a lot of things in this book that ring like my own personal bells. I love stories that follow people who have immigrated into the United States. 

And I also love stories that follow sort of like the kids of those people who have immigrated into the United States, probably because I am a kid of someone who immigrated into the United States. 

Obviously it's not the exact same experience but you know it's relatable. The story is told mostly from Isabel's perspective and I think that does kind of a good job of being a sort of vessel for the reader and the audience because there is like a little bit of a like mystery around this family. 

Isabel thinks to herself a lot about how she really doesn't know that much about Martin's family past. 

They kind of grew up together, Isabel was friends with Martin's younger sister when they were in elementary school but then some events occurred and Isabel ended up moving away and they kind of like reconnected again as adults and then started dating and obviously eventually got married. 

So there are kind of like these gaps in Martin's life that Isabel doesn't really know about and Martin doesn't like talking about his father. 

So like every time she brings it up, he's sort of like brushes it off and that becomes sort of like a pain point, especially with Omar appearing and reappearing every year on el dia de los muertos and he'll like reveal things about his life in his past and the family's past to Isabel and then Isabel has this knowledge and then you know kind of has to deal with it in ways that is difficult because it's not like she can talk to Martin about it. 

And so it's really interesting the way that this book sort of structures those levels of like secrets. Obviously, you know, in married life you're not gonna have the ghost of your like significant other's parent coming to haunt you every year, I hope. 

But I think that it you know it's kind of relatable just sort of the being in a relationship and what you choose to share and what you don't you to share with someone about your past and sort of like how what you choose to share and how you share it and all of those things can affect your relationship.

I also love sort of the balance between what Martin thinks his family life was like versus like what actually happened when Martin was growing up. The flashbacks sort of provide that extra like depth and layer. 

So Martin like has certain memories from his childhood but then you know you see what actually occurred on those days and you realize that like you're hearing all of this from the perspective of a child and, you know, like when did children ever accurately remember how things went down? 

There's a lot of things that Martin doesn't realize about his own family and sort of that journey that a lot of people go on when they grow up and realize that there are lots of things that they don't realize about their own family and especially about their own parents. 

It's obviously like a story about immigration and also like current immigration sort of struggles and things along those lines. One of the major storylines in this is that one of Martin's cousins ends up crossing the border and lives with Isabel and Martin for at least a year. 

And so there's like a lot of really great discussions on sort of like you know going through a really traumatic experience like that and then coming to a place like the United States where one there's just like an excessive amount of like comfort and availability and access and stuff like that. 

And when you come from a place that doesn't have a lot of those things that's kind of like shocking what we have available to us in the United States. And then this cousin who crosses over is a teenager and so he goes to a local high school and dealing with that sort of situation and getting acclimated. 

There's a lot of other like family things going on that again I don't want to get too much into spoilers but that obviously has an impact on everything that happens.

And yeah, it just does such a great job of talking about sort of like the nuanced experiences of crossing into the United States and sort of how that plays out in different ways. Some of the sort of flashback chapters follow other people in the group with Omar and Elda who crossed over into the United States. 

And so you see a little bit of kind of what happens to them as well. There is you know a little bit of an overlap in storylines there but I think that it also you know kind of just provides the complexities of the different things that people have to deal with when they cross over into the United States, and sort of how things do and don't work out for them and whatnot. 

I will say that there's one storyline with a family, specifically a mother and a daughter, who cross over into the United States, which after like crossing over they kind of like go off and live their own life and they kind of like merge into the main storyline a little bit later in the book. 

But for the most part you're basically just following them as they're doing their own thing. And like I said, it it's nice because it provides sort of like a diversity of experiences but it didn't feel like super connected to the rest of the book. 

So that's like the main thing that if I had to like ding this from being a five-star book, I think it's just like that one storyline that did it for me. But I honestly adored this book so, so much. I think that all of the characters in here are like well fleshed out. 

The problems and the conflicts in here just feels so like honest and realistic and the resolutions aren't necessarily happily-ever-after but, again, they just feel very like honest and real to these characters and what would happen in real life.

It's beautiful and heartbreaking and a great story about like what it means to be family and who you consider family things along those lines. But it's also like stories about like marriage and friendship and things along those lines.

This is a book that I wish would like that made into a TV show because if the TV show characters were as compelling as the characters in here, I would want to watch that TV show for a long time. 

So yeah, those are my quick thoughts on everyone knows you go home. I, like I said, really adored this book and I highly recommend picking this up if you haven't already. 

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