Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

This felt pretty similar to Olga Dies Dreaming. It was well written and I liked the setting of the neighborhood. I didn't connect super deeply to the story or the characters, but that might have just been a case of wrong timing for this book!
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I was excited for this book. I wanted to learn more about the Dominican culture and gentrification. However, that was not what this story was.
I think I went in with the wrong expectations. I felt a little lost while in the mother’s  pov but a little bit of that became clearer toward the end. I felt disconnected to the characters and the story. 
Even the love story between Luz and Hudson seemed rushed and shoved together. I hate to say that this one missed the mark for me.
Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this arc for an honest review.
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I received a digital advance copy of Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera via NetGalley. Neruda on the Park is scheduled for release on May 17, 2022.

Neruda on the Park follows a family in New York City. The Guerreros are from the Dominican Republic and live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. When a developer demolishes an abandoned building and begins constructing luxury condos, the family has varied responses to this gentrification.

Luz begins a romantic relationship with the developer, while her mother Eusebia begins scheming to stop the construction. In the midst of this, Vladimir (Eusebia’s husband and Luz’s father) is designing and building a home back in the DR, planning to take his wife back home when he retires.

This story centers on the impact of gentrification on established communities. I have read other novels centered on this theme, but this novel gave a more varied view of the theme. Rather than centering firmly on one perspective, this story gives us a variety of views of the issue, really digging in to how complex the issue can be. For some writers, this might have felt like a justification for gentrification, but Natera manages to avoid that by fully developing the members of the family and neighborhood. This gives us the layers of complexity without coming across as support for the process.

The novel follows both Luz and Eusebia, focusing on their views on the issue, but also pulling in the views of the people they are closest to. Their plot lines wove together well, as they sometimes served as antagonists for each other, without either becoming a villain. There was a turn toward the end where the author provided the reader with an explanation for something that was happening in the story. I would have preferred to not have that explanation, leaving those events with a touch of mystery and possible mysticism.

Overall, Neruda on the Park explored gentrification in a way that made me invested as a reader, and raised lots of questions for me regarding how we can keep the good bits while getting rid of the bad. The novel wasn’t able to offer answers, but should serve as a conversation starter.
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This is a spectacular summer story. It tells a story of love, family and community. Luz and her family have lived in the same New York City neighborhood for years. As immigrants they had to fight hard to achieve the American dream. When things begin to go wrong for them they have to find ways to cope and survive. The characters are interesting and colorful. There is a depth to the cultural and social nuances that are taken place that affects the fissures in the relationships. Definitely worth reading.
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Fantastic debut filled with gorgeous prose and imagery. The novel follows the Guerroros - Eusebia, Vladimir, and their adult daughter, Luz, as their beloved neighborhood is touched by the encroaching gentrification. Eusebia becomes determined to save the neighborhood at all costs, while Luz needs to decide what to do with her life. A story of what it means to be family, and the importance of home, this is a lyrical debut filled with rich characters.

"The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia's daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz's father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax."

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine books for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I had a hard time getting through this one. Not necessarily because it wasn’t a good book, it just wasn’t one that captured my attention and I had to force myself to pick it up and just finish it. 

It is a dual POV from a mother and daughter who want completely different things. The main topics we see are about family, gentrification, and different survival tactics through love and loyalty. 

Thank you Random House and netgalley for the arc in exchange for my honest review.
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🌟NERUDA ON THE PARK 🌟 by Cleyvis Natera ~to be published May 24, 2002

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Liked it, didn’t love it, but would absolutely read more by this author (I even got some Franzen vibes!).

Many thanks to Ballantine Books and @NetGalley for the complimentary advance review copy. All thoughts are my own.

We are transported to the fictional neighborhood of Northar Park in upper Manhattan, a mostly Dominican neighborhood, where a wealthy developer has decided to tear down tenement housing and construct new luxury condos. The Guerrero family, Dominican immigrants and long established community members, are forced to either purchase their apartment or move out of the neighborhood that has become home. Matriarch Eusebia becomes determined to stop the gentrification process by any means necessary, while at the same time her daughter Luz  starts dating said wealthy developer. You might be thinking to yourself, I think I know where this is going, but you would be WRONG!!!

About 20 pages into this book, I thought this was going to be a five star read. Natera’s writing is beautiful (and complex and provocative and surprising…) and the topic of gentrification and its pros and cons fascinates me. Luz’s realization that being a big-time attorney wasn’t making her happy definitely resonated with me (👋), and “the tongues” (the ladies who sit on lawn chairs outside of their building and spread all the neighborhood gossip) were such fantastic characters.

Towards the middle, the plot lost some steam – things got overly complicated, then confusing, and then just plain weird! The ending didn’t provide much, if any, resolution. After spending so much time with Eusebia, it was frustrating to be left feeling uncertain about her true feelings for her neighborhood and her daughter. Still, Natera is a fresh and exciting voice and I am eager to see what she does next.

This review will be published on Instagram and Goodreads within one week of publication (link to come).
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centered around Nothar Park, a focal point for Dominican life and culture in the Bronx. Subjected to destruction and gentrification by an upscale condo development. The central characters are the Guerrero family, he a detective nearing retirement and build to his wife’s unawareness, his dream house in the DR, she a housewife turned community activist attempting to thwart the development, and their only daughter Luz, an ivy league educated attorney destined for legal greatness but ambivalent as to the sacrifices it entails. An intimate look at dominican immigrant culture, the mother-daughter relationship, and what the concept of “ home” truly signifies.
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This book is told mainly from a mother & daughter viewpoint. The mother & father had immigrated from the Dominican Republic when the daughter was younger. Therefore she was raised speaking mostly English & went to college, getting her law degree. She had a job where she worked long hours & was trying to look the part with expensive suits & shoes. She has a very materialistic attitude until she is fired. This makes her reevaluate her life. Also there is a new building being built in her neighborhood & the people building it are trying to get everyone to sell their apartments & leave. The mother doesn't want to do this (although the father does), so she is plotting how to stop the building from being completed. This is an intriguing viewpoint into how gentrification can affect the people that are being pushed out of their homes & the lengths they might go to to stop it.
The writing was well done for most of the book. There were times during the mother's portion that I was confused.
I recommend this book for a look into what it's like to have immigrated to our country to only be pushed out years down the road.
Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for advanced copy in exchange for my honest review
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This review will be posted on May 6, 2022 to:

Maybe the novel with the meatiest plot I've read so far in 2022? Meatiest in the best possible way! There were so many themes to dive into, but the ones that stuck out for me were: the duality of the immigrant experience, white gentrification on BIPOC communities, deep seated fissures in families, and who has access to supports and innovation. Natera's prose envelopes you like a warm blanket, but it isn't overly ornamental. Instead, it's a full body deep dive into the human experience. It's masterful and beautiful to see the growth arc and journey Luz is on in this novel. #NerudaOnThePark Rating: 😊 / really liked it
This book is scheduled for publication on May 24, 2022. Thank you Ballantine Books and @penguinrandomhouse for providing me this digital ARC via @NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This story explores the complexities of building a family, and community as an immigrant. Eusebio and Vladimir immigrate from the Dominican Republic to NYC and raise their daughter in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. Their daughter,Luz, goes to law school and starts to form a path to move out of the neighborhood until, she gets fired. 
Luz struggles with the idea of not being able to help her parents finish the house in DR and the feelings of guilt. 
At the same time the neighborhood is going through big changes and the tenants  of her building have been asked to move in order to make way for new construction. Eusebia and the neighbors create a plan to change things before they change forever.  

The themes of family, loyalty and belonging are central to this epic story
 The narrative describes the sights and experiences of a Dominican family in NYC in such an authentic way. The story begins by translating the Spanish words and as the narrative progresses the translations become less frequent until they are nonexistent. This change seems intentional as Luz, Eusebia and Vladimir become more aware of their true selves as the story moves forward. 

I can not wait to read more from Cleyvis Natera. Her writing is unforgettable and this story deserves so much praise. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for the Arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I thought this was a well written book, but there were things I just didn’t enjoy enough to give it more than an ok rating. This is a story of a mother and daughter, immigrants from the Dominican Republic living in a Dominican neighborhood in New York City.  The story is told from alternating points of view of these two women. The mother’s story was very difficult to read as she fights the beautification of the neighborhood. You know there are reasons why she reacts the way she does to those around her and does the things she does to stop the building of the new building across the street, but it makes it very difficult to like her. Her part of the book is very sad. I did enjoy Luz’ story as she struggles with losing her job as a lawyer. You can see the direction she may go in and that she will be fine. I would have loved a book that centered solely on her, but I’m sure many others will like this book as it stands.
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4 ✨
literary fiction with a little spicey thriller sauce 
themes of family, loss, gentrification, sacrifice, home
cw: stillborn, racism

“What if triumph meant tearing the whole damn thing down, excavating deeply, to build something new?”

when we excavate deeply, what can we cultivate? within ourselves, within our communities, within our ideas. our masks are weighing us down. our secrets keep us tied to an identity that isn’t us. we don’t have to cover up, not ourselves, not our neighborhoods. we have to dig, to find the beauty, to let the love breathe, to allow space for the truest version of ourselves and our communities. 

what a magnificent novel. highly recommend.
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I have a difficult time believing "Neruda on the Park" by Cleyvis Natera is a debut novel-it's that good!  I could identify completely with Luz, from her overbearing family to being expected to kill yourself for that prestigious attorney job just because you are a woman and highly educated. I could also identify with Eusebia, and the rage she felt at having her life's choices stolen from her by others, including her husband.

This own voices novel has many underlying themes, including the desire to control one's life, the importance of community and culture, and the societal expectation that we as women must hold all our pain inside and be strong for our families.  At its heart, "Neruda on the Park" is about the desire to control your own life and the lengths you are willing to go to do so.   Luz is expected to devote herself  to a job that doesn't value her and leaves her little time to actually live.  Eusebia is expected to devote herself to her daughter and husband and to just sit by and watch as her neighborhood and the culture of her community are threatened by gentrification.  

I loved the colorful and realistic characters that come alive from the pages of this book.  The author's skillful writing deftly unveils a multilayered plot full of community dynamics, cultural expectations, race relations, and a bit of romance.   It's a snapshot of what life can truly be like in an immigrant neighborhood facing change from gentrification.   This is a story I won't soon forget and I will be highly recommending it to everyone!  I can definitely understand why "Neruda on the Park"  is considered one of the most anticipated debut novels of 2022 and I hope to read further works by this author.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the privilege of reading an advanced digital copy of this fabulous book, in exchange for my honest review.
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This is two perspectives (mother and daughter) on gentrification of a largely Dominican part of NYC. I very much preferred the daughter's story and I would have liked more on her perspective and less of the mother's. It was interesting how perspectives differ. This is very character focused - not plot driven.

Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was only okay... I debated rating this a 2, but am settling for 3.

I was really interested in the story until about halfway through and I had to keep making myself pick it back up again. The last 10% was better, but not enough to make my rating better.

The character development was choppy, the writing sometimes just weird, and the storyline disjointed. The writing wasn't just weird, it was a large part of why I had to make myself pick it up in the latter half. Half of the sentences were incomplete, making for a less than smooth read.

There were chapter breaks but they were given titles that, more often than not, seemed to be a random phrase from that section and didn't have much to do with what was happening.

Overall, I would not recommend.
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I have read many books focused on the life of immigrants, especially in the USA. Neruda on the Park is a standout story of a family and a community of Dominican Republic immigrants in New York. Luz and her parents live in a community in northern Manhattan near Nothar Park. Luz has checked all the boxes for her family goals. Luz graduated from law school and is on the cusp of becoming a named partner at a classy law firm. The dreams of her parents fulfilled, her father can safely continue building his retirement home back in the DR. There is one problem that comes up; he hasn't told his wife about their retirement home.

Luz's mom, Eusebia, is caught up in the construction that appears ready to take place across the street from their apartment, a place she has called home for twenty years. Someone bought the derelict building and is tearing it down. A place called Hudson Yards will go up in its place. Eusebia finds herself becoming an activist, stirring up the community to prevent what she perceives as the destruction of her community's way of life.

Luz has lots of drama in her own life besides worrying about her parents, she has developed an attraction to the developer of the new building, Hudson. This novel delivers real drama and a look at the complexities of making a successful life in 21st century America. Neruda on the Park stands out with clarity at what new life gives and takes from those immigrants who work so hard and hope for so much.

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this e-ARC
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Book: Neruda on the Park  

Author: Cleyvis Natera  

Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars 


I would like to thank the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with an ARC.  


This one had the potential to be a five-star read. However, it just fell a little short of what could have been. I kept wanting for that little thing to put it over the edge and make it great. This one of those deals where we have the bones of a great story, but it just doesn’t reach that level. We follow a group of characters who are in search of what they want in life. On the outside, they seem to have everything going for them, but they want more. Add in the fact that there is a group of people who trying to end their community and destroy everything that these people have worked for. We follow hardships, immigrants trying to make, and social justice. All of these things should have put this story over the edge for me. We should have had a great story and I should have fell in love with everything. However, it just didn’t leap off the page for me.  


I had a really difficult time with putting myself in the story. I really wanted to connect with the story, but, again, there was just something holding me back. The bones of what I enjoy in stories was very much there, but it just, I don’t know, didn’t work for me. There were many times that I was fully invested in the story. I felt the pain and suffering, as well as the strength come across the page. Then, I would read a couple more pages and these feelings would be gone.  I just wish that the emotional impact had been a little bit more present.  


The writing, again, was there. It was very compelling. Like with the other elements of the book, I just felt that it was missing something to put it over the edge. There were many times that I felt like I was there with the characters, experiencing the events. Then, I would turn the page and this connection would be gone. When I am reading, I want to feel this deep connection and bond with the book. I want it to pull me in and leave me with all of the feelings-all of the time.   


Overall, I just wanted a little bit more than I what I got. I don’t think this is a bad read, but I just wanted more. I wanted something to bring that edge.  


This book comes out on May 17, 2022.
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Neruda on the Park was an interesting story of family, community and gentrification. 
This book takes in place in New York City in the Nothar Park neighborhood which is predominantly Dominican Republicans that have made their home there. When a developer comes in and starts to build a new condo, the lives of the neighbors are going to change, but not if Eusebia has anything to say about it.

I have read many books set in NYC that are about gentrification, but Neruda on the Park was a bit different and unique. Told in dual POV from mother and daughter, it already stood out. Eusebia has lived in this neighborhood with her husband and daughter for over 20 years and while she will always have a connection to her home in the DR, Nothar Park is her home and she will not be forced from it. She has created a community and family there and will do anything to make sure she stays in her home.

Meanwhile, Eusebia's daughter Luz is the epitome of growth and wealth and the "American Dream". Her parents brought her to NY for a better life and gave her everything she needed to succeed. She went to school, graduated from a good college and is now a lawyer, living life just above her means with nice clothes and accessories and building her parents a home back in the DR. But when she is let go from her firm, she has to take a good long look at her life and what she wants out of it. 

I enjoyed seeing the collection of characters come together to 'save' their neighborhood in such an odd way. I wasn't sure what was going on with Eusebia and her schemes, but it definitely added another dimension to the character and how the story unfolded. Luz was a character I was connecting with until she became entangled with the developer of the new condo. That whole relationship and who he turned out to be was kind of perplexing. 

Overall, this was a good story that was a little slow to engage me, but the further I got into the book, the more I was invested in each character. There was a lot going on at some points, but that didn't take away from the sense of community, a love between the people and their neighbors and finding oneself in the midst of change. This is a solid debut with a strong voice. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. 3.5 stars rounded up
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In Neruda On The Park By Cleyvis Natera we read about The Guerreros, a Dominican family living in NYC. When developers start building luxury condos in place of a demolished tenement, Eusebia creates a list of petty crimes and commits them. The scheme backfires and it brings Eusebia to a point where she can no longer contain her rage. People from the community are hurt in the process. 

What caused Eusebia’s psychotic break? Was the starting point the loss she endured, the seven years of separation from her husband before joining him in the US, her recent head injury, or was it due to gentrification changing the neighborhood she worked so hard to assimilate into as a young immigrant and new mother? One could argue it’s the way multiple stressors like these chip away at mental health over time. It’s the psychological adjustment immigrants have to make every time there is a life disruption. 

I enjoyed reading themes of Bibliotherapy as a way to foster connection- Vladimir, Eusebia’s husband, read Pablo Neruda’s poems as a way to reignite his marriage after years of separation. At the end of the story Eusebia gifts this same book of poetry to The Tongues- a cheeky name she gives to three of her co-conspirators in the neighborhood. When Luz stops by to drop off her mother’s book they return the favor by giving her a stack of three more books- a testament to the way stories can communicate things our own broken hearts fall short of fully articulating. 

This is a deeply reflective story about the ways displacement forces us to renegotiate- relationships, our sense of safety, our identity, and our values. There isn’t one character untouched by the winds of change here. It’s so New York
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