Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

This book, written over the course of fifteen years (yes, 15!) was worth the wait. It tells the powerful story of Luz and her parents Eusebia and Vladimir Guerrero, who immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic into a NYC neighborhood called Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. 

This is the story of the struggles residents encounter when dealing with gentrification, but it’s also about love, loss, friendships, and the importance of family and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. 

Started out slow, but once it picked up, it was unputdownable!
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3.5 but rounded up. This ended up being more of a family drama and romance than it was a novel about gentrification, but that’s okay! I mostly struggled with the relationship between mother and daughter and didn’t really feel it was reconciled or fully explored by the end. I suppose the fact Luz realized the her mother had been hiding trauma was liberating for both of them, but it didn’t quite feel resolved.

I also struggled with Luz being willing to put up with Hudson’s really gross comments, but I don’t normally like love stories so that’s probably on me.

Overall, this does capture the nuance of being in a changing neighborhood and highlights the beauty of culture and community that cities can cultivate at their best. And the writing is beautiful even if not every aspect worked for me.
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This is another family drama that I really enjoyed.  I loved how this book explored the idea of home and belonging and looked closely at the mother/daughter relationship.  The author weaves together a very special story here. Literary in style with excellent prose, this is a slow paced book about a Dominican community.  I personally really enjoyed the Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout - it brought memories of things I would hear on occasion growing up.
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I have such mixed feelings about this book!  We follow a Dominican family in NYC through this novel.  Eusebia has sacrificed everything to support her husband and daughter, from survival in the DR, to survival in a new world with a new language, in NYC.  Vladimir has taken his family from the Dominican Republic to find prosperity in America.  But even though they have had a good life, his dream is to retire back in the DR with a beautiful new house he is secretly building for his wife.  Luz has been on a trajectory to greatness, but when she is unexpectedly fired, she has the opportunity to examine her life and decide what she really wants.  

But things are in an upheaval in the neighborhood.  They are tearing down old housing and putting up expensive condos, which will force the whole DR population out.  With a twist, Luz happens to be dating the man in charge of the new property.  After a fall, things start to change for Eusebia and she has decided she will go to any lengths to save the neighborhood.  But how far is too far?

My emotions in/about this book changed throughout the story.  At times I felt invested.  I loved the inside peek at the culture, food and relationships.  At times I felt frustrated and annoyed.  At times I couldn't believe a word I was reading.  Overall I think frustration was my overall emotion.  While I'm not sad I finished it, this was not an easy one to get through and that's why I'll give it 3 stars.  

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This novel follows a Dominican family living, Luz and her parents Eusebia and Vladimir, in NYC in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. The neighborhood, like so many others in NYC, is being gentrified and each of them handle it in their own way. Vladimir has dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic and is having Eusebia’s dream home built but Eusebia might not share that same dream. Luz is fired from her job at a prestigious law firm, is on the hunt to find another position but is burning the candle at both ends what she really wants? I highly recommend this book. It was such a great read!
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A new building is being developed and the people who live in the surrounding area are not happy with what it will do to their neighborhood. This is the story of what one woman will do in order to save her Dominican community in the city she and her family immigrated to, the city she raised her daughter in, the city she now calls home. I enjoyed reading about the close-knit community and the relationship between mother and daughter. I had a hard time understanding why some of the choices were made and why so many people went along with the terrible choices. But overall it was an entertaining book with an inside look at a slice of the immigrant life in New York City.
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Neruda on the Park looks at the effects of gentrification and the efforts to combat it. The Guerreros live in Nothar Park, a New York City neighborhood with many immigrants from the Dominican Republic. There’s a strong sense of community that unites people, but people are now being displaced as new, expensive luxury condos are being built across the street.

Luz Guerrero is on the fast track to success working at a high-powered law firm when she is fired for no apparent reason. Determined to get back on the fast track, she sets about a job search but is soon distracted by the handsome, charming developer she is falling in love with.  Her mother is obsessed with the new condo development being built by that same developer and comes up with a scheme to fight it. Her partners in crime are a group of older women called The Tongues because they are such malicious gossips. Her father is more focused on building a retirement home back in D.R. as a surprise for his wife.

Neruda on the Park is an excellent story with enduring characters that you cannot help but fall a bit in love with. The issue of gentrification is a salient one. What city doesn’t have neighborhoods being broken up and communities disrupted by gentrification and the rising prices that drive people out and disperse them far away from each other and the ties that made them a community?

I liked Luz and her parents, even her mother who became single-minded and went overboard in the battle against the condos. She came close to destroying the community in order to save it, but unlike the U.S. in Vietnam, she had more heart than that. There’s a lot of heart in this novel as well as plenty of humor, to leaven the more serious themes.

I received an e-galley of Neruda on the Park from the publisher through NetGalley.

Neruda on the Park at Ballantine Books | Penguin Random House
Cleyvis Natera
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A book about a mother and a daughter, and the new building that will certainly gentrify their Dominican neighborhood in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. The characters are funny and sad and sweet, and there is a bit of that magical realism that is common in Latin American fiction.
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I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. Very readable with quirky characters.
The main theme is the never ending problem with urban development and how it can fracture neighborhoods and families. Extremely well written….the conflicts are developed in a low key manner that allow them to be relatable and powerful at the same time.
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This was an interesting story that I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did.  It's told between two view points, Eusebia,, and her Daughter, Luz who is an attorney.  This was such an enjoyable read with all kinds of surprises, twists and turns. With Dominican American rep, as well as examples of gentrification, this was such a well rounded, emotional and surprising read.  I usually bypass books that are on different list, or celebrity book club list, because it's rare that I enjoy them, but this is one of those rare times.  It was powerful, and I didn't want to put it down, nor did i want it to end.  This will be a favorite for me, and I plan to check out this author's work in the future.
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Loved this story. I learned about it through Bookstagram but am surprised that I haven't heard much about it there or otherwise. Beautifully told story about this family. I appreciated the way the different themes were woven in, telling a story also about class and friendship. The writing really propelled the story forward. I love books set in NYC, too. So glad I got a chance to read this and will be recommending it to others!.
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This was such a fantastic debut! I really enjoyed Olga Dies Dreaming and this was definitely reminiscent of that. I think it's so important for us to read stories about how gentrification is affecting generations of immigrants and people of color. I always love a book that calls me out and teaches me about something I need to know about while also entertaining me and offering a really compelling story. I had a lot to think about after reading this, and these characters will stay with me for some time. I can't wait to see what Cleyvis Natera does next.
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Gentrification is a practice that ruins the lives of many. In the case of this book, Neruda on the Park, the Dominican neighborhood of Nothar Park is facing a very difficult time. Developers are offering large cash settlements in order to rid the neighborhood of its long-term residents, with plans of high rises and other things that appeal to the rich.

The Guerreros family have lived their with their other Dominican neighbors for decades. Demolition is going on, and Eusebia Guerreros plans on taking matters in her own hands, going to any extreme possible to bring a stop to these changes. Meanwhile, her daughter Luz is excited that she is about to be made partner at her law firm. Mostly Anglicized, Luz has huge career goals. However, the promotion doesn't happen. In fact, she is fired. No job. No more expensive clothes and shoes. And, if the developers have anything to do with it, no home.

One of the developers named Hudson has caught Luz's eye. The two begin to date despite the huge conflict that lies between them. And, as everything is going on Luz's father Vladmir, works hard with and for immigrants in his job as a police officer. Also, since he and Luz have a secret they share - building a retirement home for him and Eusebia in the Dominican Republic, a cash buyout really appeals to him. So, three people in one small family, all with different goals and aspirations. Will what is going on destroy this family unit? 

There are intriguing side stories in this novel, involving Eusebia and the reason for her actions, Vladmir's heartbreaking work experiences, Luz's facing career difficulties, and, of course, the gentrification taking place.

The history that is included in this fabulous debut novel brings my attention to Pablo Neruda and other poets of decades ago show that both Luz and Hudson are erudites, and that is always a treat for me.

This is a debut novel? Indeed it is, but it reads of years of incredible writing experience because that is what Cleyvis Natera gave us readers. Kudos to her for her first book, and she now has a new fan in me.

Many thanks to Ballantine Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please also enjoy my YouTube video review -
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Phenomenal story that shows the resonating effects of gentrification on a community. I enjoyed the intimacy the author shared with Luz and Eusebia, and the connections they had with their neighbors and loved ones.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Random House-Ballantine, and Cleyvis Natera for an ARC copy of this book. This is a debut novel focused on family drama, friendships, romance, and community. 

The story focuses on Luz who is a New York lawyer, her father Vladimir, and her mother Eusebia. The book switches the POV between Luz and Eusebia. The family has lived for the past twenty years in a Dominican neighborhood in NYC called Northar Park. When the demolition of Northar Park begins by a large corporation, Eusebia decides to devise a plan to try and stop the construction and maintain the neighborhood as is. 

The author says she took fifteen years to write the book. I’m not sure if this is typical of most authors but after hearing that and knowing it's a debut novel it made more sense to me maybe why I didn’t love the book and wasn’t fully engaged. Something about the book fell flat to me and felt disjointed. I didn’t really connect with the characters and found myself not really caring what happened to them. The author did do a great job of bringing the Dominican neighborhood to life which I did enjoy. Overall the book just wasn’t for me. I know many people have loved it so I still recommend you give it a try and decide for yourself.
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An amazing story about Dominican Repubican immigrants and how they lived and survived in America. The characters were so well developed I felt an almost visceral connection to them. An excellent read from beginning to end.

I received an Advanced Reader's Copy for the purpose review. All opinions are entirely my own.
#NerudaonthePark #NetGalley
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What an engrossing, all encompassing story of strength of character, loyalty to home and love of those who build us into who we are. Natera tells the story of saving a neighborhood through the lives of a family broken, and with it so many lessons. The characters are interesting and the plot varied and entertaining while also getting to the heart of the matter. I finished this one quickly as I had to see just what would happen next.
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*Thank you to Net Galley for the advance copy. This book is now available everywhere.

I was fully immersed and invested in the complex family history of Luz Guerrero and her family, the concept of home, love, relationships, boundaries, contrasting cultures, community, communication...the list goes on and on. This novel will pull you in and not let you go until the very last page.
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This is a book that's written with a tremendous amount of empathy. I felt like I could get inside the minds of the characters and get a better appreciation for their perspectives.
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This novel is a family drama that deals with the effects gentrification is having on their mostly Dominican neighborhood in New York City.  Luz and her mother, Eusebia are the main characters of the novel. Luz is an attorney who begins a relationship with the neighborhood developer.  Eusebia despises the relationship as well as the development and imposing gentrification.

I liked the way in which the author describes the buildings, the people and the atmosphere of the neighborhood.  The author’s writing style makes the neighborhood seem familiar to the reader.  She also skillfully writes about people and places of the Dominican Republic.

This book will appeal to those who like novels set in New York, deal with the immigrant experience, or involve complicated family relationships.

I received an advanced copy of the book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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