Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

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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I was hesitant to delve into this. I go in phases with historical fiction and this one sounded a bit deep for my mood reader tendencies but overall, I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience this story!

I found myself constantly questioning, "Is home a place, a person, an idea, etc.?" I think we have all had times in our life that have made us wonder about the idea of "home" so this brought me back to some of my own personal experiences.

Family dramas tend to pull at my heartstrings and this was no exception. Add in the whole "gentrification" idea and process ... and the drama increases ten-fold. What a subject though, "gentrification." Many are privileged to not even know what "gentrification" means which I guess is a testament to the need for more books like this, exposing the cracks in our racist, often heartless society.

The author's writing is beautiful. This wasn't unputdownable for me but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for additional books by Natera in the future. 3.5 stars but I'll round up to 4 for Goodreads.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advance copy of this ebook for review!

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One Sentence Summary: A Dominican mother and daughter end up on opposite sides when one decides to fight the building of a luxury condos building and the other starts dating the man responsible for the building.

Neruda on the Park focuses on a black Dominican family in the fictional Nothar Park area of NYC. It revolves around a mother and daughter who find themselves on opposite sides. As Eusebia, the mother, does her best to protect her community from gentrification, all while unknowingly battling a growing craziness in her brain, her daughter Luz waltzes off into an intense romance with the man behind the gentrification after she’s summarily fired from her job as a lawyer. It was fun and fascinating to watch them dance around each other, but I particularly enjoyed how they really spent the whole novel coming to grips with what they really wanted. This is a beautiful story that really touches on so many things, but never feels rush and just unfolds as naturally as possible that the lines between life and fiction started to blur in my mind.

Extended Thoughts
Neruda on the Park is the story of a mother and daughter, gentrification in NYC, race, class, and generational differences. Set in Nothar Park in NYC, a predominantly Dominican area, Vladimir and Eusebia Guerrero have raised their daughter Luz and now face being bought out from the home they’ve had for twenty years. When an old, burned out tenement is bought and torn down, Eusebia is determined to fight it, to protect this neighborhood that has been her home for two decades, the place where she raised her daughter and dutifully cared for her family and her neighborhood. Because a luxury condo building is going up and the landlords of the surrounding buildings want to turn the apartments into condos, essentially forcing out the lively Dominican community.

At nearly thirty, Luz is a successful lawyer being mentored by a high powered female lawyer who sees strong potential in Luz. Until Luz is summarily fired for no clear reasons. Left floundering, she madly tries to piece her life back together, unexpectedly sparking a romance with the very man in charge of building the luxury condos in her neighborhood. Their romance is hot and intense and offers the freedom Luz needs from under her mother’s thumb to determine what she really wants out of her life, but it sets mother and daughter on opposite sides even as Vladimir quietly builds his and Eusebia’s dream house back in the Dominican Republic.

Initially drawn to the mother-daughter dynamic, Neruda on the Park turned into a deeply personal kind of read for me. It’s not my usual kind of read, and I did feel the beginning took too long to get moving, but, once it did and once all the threads started to weave together and unravel, I was riveted. I loved the story of the mother who wants to protect and save her home with everything in her, because the definition of home has changed and she’s tired of giving and giving and giving. I also loved the story of the daughter raised to be Dominican American who cares about her community, but, like many young Americans, is more focused on herself and finding her own way. I loved seeing their stories intertwine, loved watching them develop and find their own needs, wants, and places. In some ways, I found it to be a powerful story of women, but it also touches on class and race and the difference between generations.

Eusebia is the kind of mother who puts her husband and child first, who is the first awake to prepare breakfast, the last to eat, and the one who shoulders the responsibility for her family. There were times when I wanted to scream at her to just let her husband and daughter take care of themselves and just take a day off, but there are cultural differences between her and me and I respect the one she comes from. It’s an integral part of her character, making the sudden crazy shift in her startling, but fascinating. I was riveted by her, by the changes she underwent, while also horrified at some of what she sought to do. She really felt like she was unraveling throughout the story, but, because of everything everyone around her was going through, no one realized, which was amazingly scary but also completely believable. She’s a mother who wants the best for her daughter and a community member who has grown to love this place she has called home for two decades.

Luz felt like the stereotypical young American woman who thinks only of herself. Groomed to be successful by her mother and then her mentor, she only expects accolades and promotions, until it all comes crashing down and she turns a selfish eye on herself and what she wants instead of serving her community and family as her mother does. She chooses to take the time to find her next step, balking at the dreams her mother has for her. As her mother fights the building of luxury condos, Luz becomes romantically entangled with the man behind it. But she’s also in on her father’s secret, so the fact that her parents will be ousted from their apartment is no big deal. She fails to see what it all means to her mother because her own problems are more pressing. And yet she’s there for her community, she suspects something is off with her mother, but I also got the feeling she was unwilling to throw herself into her neighborhood. Her development was soft and slow, sometimes feeling like it was sparked by the story instead of by who she was, but I still liked it, and really loved the way her story ended.

Neruda on the Park is so much more than the story of a mother and daughter. It touches on race, bringing black Dominicans into the spotlight. I liked that it focuses on a black Dominican family, that they speak Spanish, that others are surprised that they’re black and Spanish-speaking. I also loved that the neighborhood was vibrant and willing to come together to do whatever necessary. They relied on each other, helped each other. Luz was the one who really came in contact with those outside of her community. I enjoyed reading the surprise and easy dismissal of her race by various characters. And, through Luz, the reader also gets a taste of class differences. Surrounded by wealthy, high powered people with the world at their fingertips, her reality is that she is an immigrant. Yet she buys into what those outside her culture offer, buying the clothes, the jewelry, the shoes, and wanting to live in a specific area. I did like that the man she dates, Hudson, met Luz’s family, saw where she was from, and still loved her. But I never got the feeling that Luz and Hudson really explored their differences. What initially felt like a sweet romance eventually turned into something that felt uncomfortable to me and uncomfortably sexist, but ended up helping to be the kick Luz needed to really figure out her place.

But my favorite part of Neruda on the Park were the generational differences between Eusebia and Luz. Eusebia’s youth was full of childish pursuits, but I suppose she always knew it was her duty to take care of her family. We see her feeding her family, doing the chores, guiding Luz through her childhood from success to success, making sure her husband never has to worry about her and can instead feel free to ignore her when his work as a police detective gets too heavy. She bears all the burdens, and does it silently. And then there’s Luz who feels incredibly selfish next to her mother, who doesn’t take the time to see what’s happened to her mother and understand her personality changes are actually quite drastic and scary. I struggled through much of the book to understand how a daughter like Luz could become a mother like Eusebia. It kind of felt like a switch was flicked on, but it was also done in steps and I really enjoyed watching the progression as Luz finally grew up and Eusebia made certain choices. It felt like they went from being at odds with each other to somehow joining each other on the same plane. Watching them circle each other warily was a lot of fun and, in the end, I really felt invested in this family and their future.

Neruda on the Park really came to life in my mind because of the setting. As far as I can tell Nothar Park doesn’t actually exist, though I’d love to be proven wrong. It felt like a small neighborhood, but I loved how colorful and close-knit it was. The people who were there when Eusebia and Luz moved to be with Vladimir are still there: the girl from downstairs Luz grew up with has a family of her own there now, and the Tongues (three identical elderly sisters) keep watch on the neighborhood where the children Luz grew up with are adults with jobs and families. There’s a history to this place that felt rich and real and I could believe I was reading about a real community, that I could go there and see all the characters in this book come to life. The neighborhood and their culture felt so real to me that the lines between reality and fiction started to blur.

Neruda on the Park is a beautiful story not just of a mother and daughter, but of gentrification, race, class, family, and finding one’s own path forward. This story really packs it in, but I never felt like it was rushed. The characters developed at what mostly felt like a natural rate, and Eusebia’s was especially fascinating. The two stories did feel a little contrived in order to go together and Eusebia’s story sometimes felt completely unrealistic, but I loved the way the book ended.

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Mother daughter story that centers immigration, gentrification, race/class. This was a slow burn but in the end worth it. Recommend for those who enjoyed what’s mine and yours and Olga dies dreaming. This book will be on my mind for a long time

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I'm passing on reviewing this as it's not my sort of read, and it is therefore unfair for me to review it.

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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera was a DNF for me. It was written well and had an interesting premise, I just had trouble getting into it.

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There's a certain type of book where you can tell each sentence was crafted, reviewed, edited, and chosen carefully. There are no words wasted and you can tell the author has spent time and effort into the story they've woven for us. The last time I felt that way when reading a book was with All The Light We Cannot See and I was so happy to get that feeling again with Neruda on the Park. While the books are vastly different I could see the hard work that the authors poured into their story. Natera is extraordinary and it's hard to believe this is her debut novel. Her characters piss you off, make you tear up, make you fall in love with them, and she brings into the forefront issues that plague the Latinx community such as gentrification, finding home in the diaspora, expectations of the second generations who carry their parents' dreams, sacrifices, and hopes, and trying to find yourself amidst all of that. Truly a wonderful work that everyone needs to read.

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Thank you so much to @netgalleyfor the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Wow! What a great debut from Natera! This book is beautifully written - the characters were complex and flawed (which I love as it makes it feel much more realistic). I loved how in depth we were able to look at the concept of gentrification, both the pros and cons.

I loves Luz and how she found herself throughout the book, and stayed true to the person she wanted to be rather than adjusting her life to fit the mold that other people thought was best for her. I couldn't stand Hudson, but I think that was the point!

Honestly, the middle of the book was somewhat slow moving, however the ending?! I honestly couldn't get enough of the last 50 pages - what a whirlwind! I cannot wait to see what Natera does next!

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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera
The Gurrero family is like many immigrant families in the United States. Leaving behind hunger and poverty in their beloved home in the Dominican Republic, they settle in New York City’s Nothar park. Father Vladimir becomes a policeman, while Eusebia, his wife, becomes not only her neighborhoods force to be reckoned with, but also her daughter, Luz’s biggest champion and driving force. Each success Lux achieves is not hers alone, but also Eusebia’s, each lapse in what Eusebia sees on Luz’s course to the top, her own.
When Luz loses her high paying job as a corporate attorney, and Eusebia takes a fall that alters her personality, they join in the fight of gentrification of their neighborhood. Natera creates a colorful, emotionally deep set of characters to populate the neighborhood, and it is in the interactions between the main characters and these secondary ones that the novel shines. Gorgeous writing, and characters you will not want to let go fill this beautiful book, filled with the beauty and sorrow of not only Neruda, but people who’ve left their homeland everywhere. This is a writer I will watch.
The publisher gave me an advanced reader copy of Neruda on the Park. It was published May 25, 2022/

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