Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

A powerful read. 

This book shows the struggle, the love, the community and social issues we are facing not only in our community but also within our own families. Luz's journey is one we all have to go through at one point or another.

Great debut novel for Cleyvis Natera.
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As a nurse, I was having a hard time reading this book and not triaging the fall that occurs with one of the characters very early on. I was just waiting for a neurologic emergency to occur and that was so hard to read. Now that I can see the whole story, it does add a level of urgency to the tone if the book and that does elevate the theme. The characters were very complex and the story was well constructed .
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Luiz Guerrero, an attorney who has just been 'fired'; her parents: Mami [Eusebia] who wants to stay in the neighbordood & Papi {Vladimir] who wants to retire home in Dominican Republic. This is an intense novel of secrets, trust, changes, gentrification.
Nerudo on the Park would be an excellent book group selection.
Read this debut novel to learn more about immigration, change, and neighborhood dynamics.
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CW: hate crime, murder, death. colorism, fatphobia, fatphobic comments, body shaming, eating Disorders. use of the f slur, misgendering, suicidal ideation, self-harm, blood.

Oh God yall don't know how badly I wanted to love this book. A literary fiction novel about two Dominican women fighting against gentrification. I thought this was going to be my perfect book. Sadly, I was wrong.

Let me start with the good before I start ranting. 

Natera's writing stunning. She has such a way with words. I tabbed and highlighted so many quotes that I will look back on them for a long time. I was thrilled to see so much Dominican culture in this. I felt so seen within the mentions of my cultural foods and the "dichos" that are widely known in my country. I saw my family in each member of the community. That is one of the many things I appreciate about this book.

Now the not so good.

This was a mess. While the writing was great, the plot and story building was lacking. It fell into this thing that tends to happen in some debut literary fiction novels. And that is trying to tackle a lot of different topics at once. The conversation and development surrounding gentrification were interesting until we got to the last third of the book. It took me on a rollercoaster ride of events that felt so odd and took me out of the story. It felt like the author was trying to make the story take a dark turn when I didn't need to. It felt like one of those overly dramatic movies. Where the first half of it is chill with a sprinkle of drama here and there. And then, all of a sudden, a hurricane of events occurs, and you're left wondering what's going on. That is exactly how I felt. The twists were shocking in all the wrong ways. Like I said, a whole mess. 
Also, there was an unnecessary amount of fatphobic comments that made me feel so uncomfortable as a fat person myself. 

I will be reading whatever the author releases in the future. I think that she has the potential of writing something amazing in the future!

Thank you to Netgalley for the e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera deals with the gentrification of a small New York City neighborhood and turns into warfare that pits mother and daughter unsuspectingly against each other. Luz achieved all the hopes a parent wishes for--a degree from a prestigious college, an up-and-coming legal career, a wealthy lifestyle, and more. She's even funding the custom-built home for her parents, so that they can return to their native Dominican Republic in style. 

But their modest Nothar Park neighborhood is threatened with the building of luxury condos. Their own apartment building will be converted into costly condos that will not enable most residents to stay in the place they've called their own since Luz was a small child. Luz's mother Eusebia has a plan, though, to prevent all this upheaval that's infiltrating their homes. As the plan goes forward, the more ominous the book gets. And part of the problem is that Luz has become romantically involved with the developer behind all these changes.

At the start, I really enjoyed this book. The relationships between Luz's parents and herself shows an interesting juxtaposition between the haves and have-nots, the immigrants and the children of the immigrants. Luz's parents struggled through dire circumstances to get where they are, and, with all the achievements that Luz earns, she's well on her way to easy street. Between mother and daughter, their ideas do not dovetail, and Luz's relationship puts even more barriers between them.

This novel covers the battle of cultures, socioeconomic groups, and justice. Who is right in this whole scenario? Can Luz straddle both her upbringing and her current lifestyle? When it comes down to Luz assisting her mom in the plan to fight "city hall," as they say, will their very different decisions pull them apart?
Towards the end of the book, some things get really strange. The change wasn't very seamless, and suddenly, you're wondering what's going on. That sort of lost me. Plus, I didn't love the ending. It wasn't what I wanted for any of these characters because no one seems happy or settled. This book morphed from one of interest to one that didn't play out like I hoped. 

Despite this, I thought the writing was excellent and the story did keep me interested. Also, I liked hearing about the Dominican Republic and the culture.
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A thank you to Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don't have much to say that hasn't been rehashed in the many other reviews, nor do I feel the need to summarize it again in my own (but similar) words. I can't say that fully connected with the characters, but I really appreciated the unique perspective on the timely issue of gentrification - something that not a lot of people give much thought to in mainstream America, but is a very real and horrible reality for the people it is happening to.
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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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