Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

A beautiful story of community and the roots which are planted by everyone within. A story of a tumultuous relationship between mother and daughter as it evolves from dependence to a balance of independence and understanding.  
Fifteenth years to write this book and it was worth the wait.
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While this book required more of my attention and took me longer than usual to read, it was absolutely worth the effort. This was an interesting story that was full of the complexities of relationships between family, lovers, friends and neighbors. It was a story that was exceptionally informative about the difficulties of cultural differences, gentrification and discrimination. This book is absolutely worth reading.
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This is a bittersweet novel about family, traditions, and self-sacrifice. Doting, do-good Dominican-born mother Eusebia and her cronies concoct a plan to halt demolition of a neighboring condo development when the process of gentrification begins. But their schemes backfire at the same time that daughter, Luz meets the white developer Hudson and falls for him after losing her job as an attorney. And a generational chasm is opened; but family is forever, and fortunately father Vladimir has plans of his own. Natera deftly examines culture, race relations, family bonds, as well as societal expectations in this lovely tale. Clearly this is a novel for our times!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
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I enjoyed the premise of this book overall. It warmed my heart and kept me interested. At times, I felt it was a little bit too descriptive and went on for a while, thus why I couldn't rate it higher. But, the topic, was spot on and amazing.
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Neruda on the Park is truly a book like no other. What starts as a family drama quickly turns dark and unsettling. The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood of New York City, for years. Vladimir, the head of the family, was the first one to leave the Dominican Republic decades ago and now works as a policeman. But the novel focuses mostly on the women - Eusebia, a housewife who takes care of everyone, and Luz, their only daughter and an associate at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. The story begins when Luz is let go from her job, but it’s not the only dark cloud on the family’s horizon - when the neighboring tenement is demolished to make space for luxury condos, Eusebia finds herself willing to do anything to save their home from sharing that fate.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It started out slow and I was a little worried that it would be boring, but when it picked up the pace, I was hooked. I absolutely loved how Natera combined the themes of motherhood, womanhood, racism and gentrification, and approached them from a feminist perspective. It was so satisfying to peel back the layers of the book and with every chapter uncover new details that enriched the story. That being said, I definitely enjoyed Eusebia’s storyline more - I liked seeing Luz grow, but her romance plot line wasn’t as interesting as learning about Eusebia’s past and watching her transformation. I was also very impressed with the theme that Natera sadly only scratched - there’s a very intriguing scene about climate change that I would love to read more about.

TLDR: Neruda on the Park is a melancholic, captivating story about community, responsibility and sacrifice that focuses on two generations of women and the differences in their experiences.
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Nothar Park is a predominantly Dominican part of New York City. Having lived there for twenty years, Eusebia Guerrero is determined to stop the demolition of a neighboring tenement to build luxury condos. Eusebia's daughter Luz is a law associate, trying to live the lifestyle her parents worked so hard to give her. She begins a romance with the white developer her mother opposes. At the same time, Eusebia's husband Vladimir is designing a retirement home in the Dominican Republic. Tensions are rising in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

Nothar Park is a neighborhood spanning one block wide and two blocks long, which sounds small but is still packed full of people due to the high rises and sheer volume of people living in New York City. Luz wound up doing what a lot of immigrant and first-generation children do: understand the mother tongue but read and write and reply in English, excel because anything less isn't allowed, and take it incredibly personally when she isn't able to achieve her dreams. Getting laid off out of nowhere in the beginning of the book rocks her sense of self and place in the world. Eusebia's entire world is caring for her husband and daughter, and the home they have. She takes the demolition and gentrification personally, as it took her a long time to feel like the United States was home. Vladimir is the calm and practical one in the family. As the book progresses, we see the pairs within the family, the shifting expression of their loyalty and love for their home and each other.

Language is choppy in places, not following the usual rules of English grammar. That gives me the impression that it's thoughts translated from Spanish to English because even if she doesn't really speak Spanish anymore, its cadences and influence remains indelibly on her life. There's also significant commentary on physical appearance, particularly the way women must contort themselves into knots to fit all the roles expected of them. Some go to extremes, such as Cuca, but others push themselves in the name of careers and progress. We also have the question of home. For immigrants, is it their country of origin or the country where they carve a place for themselves? As the first generation born in the United States, I understand how hard it is to come to that decision, to figure out what home really is. It's a heart-wrenching story and one that many readers will appreciate.
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I read this at a very interesting time. Seeing the first generational family drama as the world in changing around the main character was pretty gripping.
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3.5 stars rounded up

This was a novel that grabbed my interest pretty early on, although I was initially confused by the words in the middle of the chapter. I think they were subheadings, but they didn't always highlight what I thought the section was about, so I'm not sure if they needed to be there. The story centers around a Dominican neighborhood in New York City, whose presence may be threatened by gentrification, as many of the poor residents may be pushed out or bought out to make way for high-priced condos. Specifically, the story highlights one family, Eusebia and Vladimir de Guerrero, and their daughter Luz. There is also a "Greek chorus" made up of three gossiping ladies in the neighborhood.  The story is told alternately from Eusebia's and Luz' points of view, which mostly works, although I would have liked to hear more from Vladimir, although this may have been deliberate on the author's part to focus on the women's voices. While both points of view were important to the story, I found myself increasingly disturbed by what was going on with Eusebia and there were times when I thought I was dealing with a magical realism situation. Overall, I thought the author did a good job keeping us on our toes about what was going to happen next.  Without revealing any spoilers, each woman had their own journey to take and I feel satisfied with what ended up happening with each of them. I did have to reread the end couple of times just to understand it, but it definitely made sense and worked with all that Eusebia had gone through. This was not a fast-paced story, but there was something about it that got into your skin and made you want to keep on reading. While I think a bit of editing (maybe remove the inner subheadings?) and maybe adding a glossary to the end for non-Spanish speaking readers (I was able to figure out most of it from context) would tighten up the story overall, I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future. 

I received an advance review copy from NetGalley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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There is so much to love in Neruda on the Park, a debut novel by Dominican author Cleyvis Natera. The story focuses on members of a Dominican family in New York City who are facing the gentrification of their neighborhood. Primarily it’s a mother/daughter story, but it’s also about family, friendship, love and community. The story is a serious one, but it’s told in a vibrant and often humorous way. Natera really captures the vibrancy and exuberance of the Dominican culture. It’s beautifully written and when it ended I felt like I saw myself and my own Dominican family in the characters. This would make a great book club pick!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for this ARC.
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“Neruda on the Park” is a beautifully written book that has stayed with me for a long while after reading it. Cleyvis Natera has written a story that brings to life the trials and tribulations of gentrification, immigration, familial love, and self-love. 

In “Neruda on the Park” an adult daughter, Luz, navigates the turmoil around her whilst trying to find a way to make her mark in a fast-paced work environment, find romance, and to stay true to her family. Eusebia, Luz’s mother, meanwhile, is a leader to her community and family, who won’t let anyone or anything get in the way of her newfound home. 

Natera  has written an exceptionally gorgeous and heartfelt novel that I recommend everyone reads at least once.
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Amazing debut novel by Cleyvis Natera, Neruda in the Park is one of my 2022 favorites. The Guerrero’s family moved from the Dominican Republic twenty years ago and settled into a Dominican neighborhood. Gentrification has started in the neighborhood and an apartment building close to them is being torn down to make a place for some upscale apartments. I love how Natera focused on one Dominican family  The story is told mostly through the eyes of the mother and daughter, Eusebia, a traditional mother makes  breakfast for her adult daughter and husband, makes sure the house runs smoothly and is a well-known member of the community. The daughter, Luz, has been a lawyer for a Manhattan firm for five years. Expecting a promotion she finds out she is being terminated. The father, Vladimir is a policeman (close to retirement) who is having a dream home built in the DR for his wife. At times, I felt like I was sitting in this family’s living room watching this story unfold. I especially enjoyed the chapters where the “Tongues,” a group of neighborhood gossips who give their point of view about what is happening in the neighborhood. Eusebia becomes a leader in trying to stop the destruction of the apartment building close to their building. 

I had a hard time putting this book down once I started. I look forward to reading future books by Clovis Natera! My thanks to Random House Ballantine and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
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Thanks for the ARC Ballantine Books & Netgalley. This gave me "Olga Dies Dreaming" vibes, but I think I liked that book better than this. I liked the story, but didn't love it. I kept losing steam on the story. For a debut it was a great one and I am sure I will enjoy future reads from the author. This one just wasn't my favorite.
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Magical realism meets contemporary US urban conflict in this novel about a neighborhood’s reaction to coming gentrification.

When gentrification comes to Nothar Park, the wake of the wrecking ball leads to different reactions among the predominantly Dominican neighborhood population. The novel centers on a mother and daughter with occasional interludes from the Tongues, the self-appointed neighborhood watch and protectors.

👩🏽 Eusebia, the mother, is staunchly against seeing her neighborhood change and her community pushed out of the city. She has dedicated her life to caring for her family and neighbors. To her, the winds of change feel personal. Yet, her husband is a police detective who yearns to go home to the Dominican Republic.

👩🏾‍🦱 Luz, Eusebia’s daughter, is a Harvard undergrad with a law degree from Columbia. Her education insulates her and she’s convinced she can find her way, even as the neighborhood of Nothar Park changes. Yet, she sees how scared her family and friends are at the change that’s coming, leaving her conflicted.

👵🏽👵🏼👵🏽 The Tongues are concerned, but largely passive to the change they see coming all around them. Even after hearing Eusebia’s action plan, they question what they can do to stop what’s coming.

🤩 Review: Wow, this book has so much depth and is incredibly well written. The story is interesting from the start and it just grows more complex in the telling. This would make an *excellent* book club pick. Please let me know if you’ve read this—I’m eager to discuss!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (4.5/5)

NERUDA ON THE PARK is out now! Thanks to @NetGalley and Ballantine Books @PenguinRandomHouse for the ARC of this gem.
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I was excited to read this book.  I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the characters and their surroundings-I felt like I was with them at times.  That being said, the story line involving the gentrification of the protagonists’ neighborhood was so unrealistic and actually kind of silly.  That storyline took away from or took the place of a story line that could be strong and a bit more sound.  Accordingly, this is a 3.5 star book, rated down to 3 stars because of the lack of one of the storyline’s interest factor.  Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy for review.
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Cleyvis Natera opens her new novel Neruda on the Park with the demolition of a long-abandoned building and simultaneous cleaning up of the neighborhood park.  This sounds like good news, right?  

Not to the Dominican residents in Nothar Park, whose rental apartments are about to be converted into condos and who will be forced to vacate or to come up with money to buy. Lont-time resident Eusebia de Guerrero determines to stop the gentrification.  Looking for support, she turns to the “Tongues,” three gossipy elderly sisters. Together they create an unusual action list to scare off future buyers.

Eusebia’s daughter Luz has a mind of her own.  Having arrived in the U.S. at eight and still living with her parents, Luz has been brought up to believe herself responsible for fulfilling her parents’ American Dream.  Given every encouragement and opportunity by her dotting mami and papi, Luz has graduated from Harvard Law School and anticipates a promotion to junior partner that very day. She believes she’s on the verge of fulfilling that dream by showing her parents she can afford a large, expensive place of her own in Central Park West, the best of clothes, and a walk-in closet for her shoes like Raenna’s, her law firm mentor.  Not bothered by demolition in her neighborhood, Luz thinks only of her bright future.

Meanwhile, Eusebia’s husband/Luz’s father, a police detective nearing retirement, leaves town in search of the person who drove a truckload of immigrants cross country to NYC, leaving many of them dead in the locked truck, suffocated by lack of oxygen.  Luz and her father share a secret, a surprise for Eusebia.

Walking into a yoga class, Luz finds herself paired with another Harvard graduate slightly older than she. Little does Luz realize the identity of this handsome stranger. Will this meeting impact the women’s plans?

With Eusebia determined to halt gentrification, Luz determined to climb the socio-economic ladder, and things not always going as the women hope, Cleyvis Natera gives us a complex and engaging look at issues facing urban communities today.

Natera cleverly arranges the novel into three parts:  “Demolition,” “Excavation,” and “Grounding,”  each part playing dual roles in the story.  Chapters alternating between mother and daughter make up the three parts, but with occasional brief interludes focused on the Tongues.    

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballentine/Random House for an advance reader copy of this highly recommended new novel.  I look forward to future work by this Dominican American author, who arrived in the U.S. not much older than Luz.
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Neruda on the Park is one of those books that you continue to think about long after you finish the story. Told through the point of view of Eusebia and her daughter Luz, this novel explores the gentrification of a Dominican neighborhood called Nothar Park. This novel also discusses the pressure of being a woman of color in a professional setting and the expectations associated with that. The setting of Nothar Park is a character in this novel and the author did a great job giving insight into the unique rythmn of the neighborhood and the residents. 
Thank you to Random House Publishing/Ballantine Books for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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"Neruda on the Park" takes place in New York City, highlighting a Dominican family who have divergent reactions when gentrification creeps into their neighborhood. Eusebio has been living in Nothar Park for 20+ years with her husband Vladimir and daughter Luz, a rising successful lawyer who she is so proud of and has a very close relationship with. There are a couple of inciting incidents that propel the book forward. Demolition begins in an abandoned tenement building in the neighborhood and Eusebio can predict what is coming for her and her neighbors. Vladimir has been preparing for retirement and for Eusebio and him to move back to the Dominican Republic to live out their golden years. Luz gets unexpected news about her job that sets off an unexpected life change for her, and she also meets Hudson, a rich white man, whose company is involved in the new construction project in her neighborhood. When first reading the book, Luz reminded me of the main character of Olga in "Olga Dies Dreaming"- a successful Latina in the eyes of her community but who questions her purpose in life. Eusebio enlists the neighborhood women to try and make the neighborhood less appealing for developers through questionable means. Eusebio and Luz, once very codependent on each other drift apart as Eusebio becomes unhealthily obsessed with her neighborhood schemes and Luz becomes drawn into an intense, propulsive relationship with Hudson. 

This is an impressive debut novel- Natera draws the reader into the neighborhood drama as the demolition progresses and relationships fray. I found Eusebio to be a particularly compelling character, with a complex history and explanation for her actions. I did not find Luz to be as fleshed out, and her relationship with Hudson always appeared uneasy to me and did not get the attraction, and it sort of lost me towards the end. But overall, this is a compelling book that I think a lot of readers will enjoy.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group (Ballantine Books) via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.
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Wow, I really, really loved Neruda on the Park. I finished it last night and have not been able to stop thinking about this story, or these characters. They made such a lasting impact on me and I specially loved the ending!! 

The story alternates back and forth between Luz and her mother, Eusebia. Luz is a hot shot lawyer. Nothing is more important to her than her job and impressing her peers. When Luz randomly gets fired from her job, her life as she knows it begins to unravel. The time off while she seeks another job, gives her time to rethink what is important and realize she may need more of a work life balance. Eusebia is a mother and nothing means more to her than taking care of her family. She cooks meals for Luz and her husband every day and she does not even eat herself until her family is finished eating. As her neighborhood is getting demolished to be replaced with luxury condos and all of her friends will be displaced and out of homes, Eusebia realizes these people are her family as well. Again, there is absolutely NOTHING Eusebia will not do for her family. In order to try and stop the luxury condo builders, Eusebia plots and sets up petty crimes to make the neighborhood appear undesirable. But will Eusebia take it too far? Will Luz and Eusebia’s relationship become too strained?
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There were parts of this book that sang to my soul. The sense of community and continuity are things we should all be so lucky to have in our neighborhoods. And when this security is threatened by gentrification, the neighborhood fights back. While this provided the backbone for the run of the story, all the other situations provided the meat. There was mental illness, drug abuse, glass ceiling, feminism, family secrets, BLM, the need for independence, etc. All combined this made for a read that almost felt like a 360-surround play that the reader was immersed in. I actually caught my breath at one point thinking perhaps the story was going to mirror a favorite opera of mine and crossed my fingers hoping it wouldn't. Even the chorus provided by the old ladies in the neighborhood, The Tongues, added a layer to the relaying of the history, present, and future of the neighborhood. This is a beautiful story filled with memorable characters!
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NERUDA ON THE PARK is like no other book I have read. Poetic and lyrical, this story of a mother and daughter, caught between countries and cultures, is breathtaking, heart wrenching prose. Eusebia is an ultimate matriarch, joining her husband Vladimir in the United States after years apart with her living in their Dominican Republic home with their daughter Luz and he a police officer in New York City. Luz is the ultimate in young women living between two cultures -- her Dominican heritage and the neighborhood she loves with the life she has created with education and a professional career with adoring, rich partner.  The struggle between two powerful, passionate women erupts as Eusebia becomes impassioned activist for their neighborhood and daughter struggles between her past and her future. In the end, they accomplish meaningful change through no fault or credit to themselves alone. The story was an intoxicating blend of hard reality and magical realism, as immersive and perplexing and wonderful a tale between two people, two cultures, myriad possibilities. I received an early copy of this novel and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
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