Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

Wow. What a captivating story. Hard to believe this is a debut but I read in the acknowledgements that it was written over the course of 15 years. There is so much to take in on this breathtaking story of gentrification, family, love, loss and sacrifice. I went in fairly blind which served me well as I was completely wrapped into this story line and beautiful writing.  This is no doubt going to leave a long lasting impression with me.
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"𝑰 π’Œπ’π’π’˜ 𝒂 π’…π’Šπ’‡π’‡π’†π’“π’†π’π’• π’„π’‰π’π’Šπ’„π’† π’˜π’π’–π’π’… 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒍𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒂 π’…π’Šπ’‡π’‡π’†π’“π’†π’π’• π’“π’†π’ˆπ’“π’†π’•. π‘Ύπ’π’π’…π’†π’“π’Šπ’π’ˆ π’Šπ’‡ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’„π’‰π’π’Šπ’„π’†π’” 𝑰 π’…π’Šπ’…π’'𝒕 π’Žπ’‚π’Œπ’† π’Žπ’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’•'𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’“π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’• 𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒔?  𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒅𝒐 π’šπ’π’–π’“ 𝒃𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉 π’…π’‚π’š π’˜π’Šπ’•π’‰ π’˜π’‰π’‚π’• π’šπ’π’– π’ˆπ’π’•."

Vladimir, a husband/father desperately wanting to return to the Dominican Republic. Eusebia, a wife/mother who wants to stay in Nothar Park, a mostly Dominican part of New York City where she's spent the last twenty years of her life. Β And Luz, a daughter wanting to make her parents proud and not disappoint them. Where gentrification takes over Nothar Park Eusebia will do anything to stop it.

This is a beautiful story about love, family, friendship, and loyalty. It covers some pretty intense topics like crime, gentrification and identity. It's the type of story that you don't want to end. I really enjoyed all of these characters and wished I could have learned what the future held for them. Fantastic debut novel.
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The novel starts out with Luz losing her prestigious job at a law firm. Luz is the only child of Dominican immigrants, Eusebia and Vladimir, who moved to NYC when Luz was 10 years old. Eusebia is upset about the luxury apartments being built and is convinced they will destroy the culture of their Latinx neighborhood. Luz tries to figure out what her next step professionally will be when she accidentally starts dating the rich white (hot) guy in charge of building the apartments, much to her mother’s dismay.  Luz’s mother is on a mission to do anything to stop the new development, no matter whose lives it endangers. As the story progresses, the intensity of Eusebia’s mission increases, putting a strain on her relationship with Luz and the community and distances her from her husband. The ending is an explosive collision of both Luz and Eusebia’s decisions that have consequences neither could have imagined. 

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The novel explores the immigrant life from the perspective of one Dominican family living in NYC. In addition, I loved the the complexity in the relationship between Luz and her mother and how the author delved deep into the misconceptions that both Eusebia’s husband and daughter harbored about her desires. I absolutely loved this novel! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for this advance reader’s copy. The novel will be published on 5/17/2022
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I am sorry to say that I did not read this novel.  Books that are not available as regular ebooks do not play from the Apple accessibility tool on my phone, which I use to listen to books in my car on a long commute.  (This is often the only way I have time to read anymore.  

So, nothing against the book or the author, but for lack of formatting options, I give this book 3 stars by default.
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After reviewing novels for 15 years and plotting my own, it's not often that a book surprises me, but Cleyvis Natera's Neruda on the Park is an astounding debut. The set-up reminded me of You've Got Mail: a naive young woman falls for the charming developer who threatens to destroy her world. However, as the beautiful cover art reveals, Neruda on the Park is more of a mother-daughter story than a romance, unless Nothar Park, their Dominican neighborhood in NYC, is the main love interest. What the story becomes is true to the multidimensional characters in our uncertain times but not what you'd expect from genre scaffolding.

Natera's novel has such a wonderful sense of place of both Manhattan (where I grew up) and the Dominican Republic (where I've visited). The generosity and rivalry of neighbors in a close knit community was well observed. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of food: "Pastel making started out as it always did - hours peeling skin, grinding the flesh of plΓ‘tanos, yautias, and yuccas until the grainy yellow paste was smooth enough to be mistaken for cooked cornmeal." There's so much local flavor: from the decorative (not pandemic) masks celebrating Dominican Independence Day to the sidewalk barbecues with extra food to share, but crime, sexism, racism, and ICE lurk around the corner.

The book opens with commercial glitz: successful women wear designer suits with mortgageable shoes and dine in trendy restaurants. The power players, both black and white, live in private brownstones, where jewelry and books are displayed behind glass like trophies of social status. Double Ivy League educated herself, Luz Guerrero wants to grasp everything that is withheld from her. Her name in Spanish means light warrior, and she earns it, fighting for justice.

To please her doting parents and her mentor-boss, Luz works long hours as a corporate lawyer, pouring her savings into her parent's retirement home back in DR and buying designer clothes for herself on credit. After her career hits an unexpected setback, Luz meets a handsome billionaire in a hot yoga class (don't quit reading). Although white and privileged, Hudson apologizes for his mistakes, speaks better Spanish than hers, recites Pablo Neruda's poetry by heart, and welcomes Luz into his luxurious world without reservations. Hudson wants the best for her. So why does her mother hate him?

Halfway through the book, the seemingly predictable plot warps like a Dali clock, resetting our perception of reality. What I enjoyed the most was watching the characters develop and twist the storyline in unexpected directions, but I won't say any more to avoid spoilers. Except go pre-order this May 17th book from your local indie bookstore before it sells out. Publishing rights to Neruda on the Park sold at auction for all the right reasons. Will there be a movie?
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Where is home? Is it a place? This was a well written family drama with elements of romance, relationships , and community.  It all takes place when there is gentrification of a Dominican neighborhood in NYC. 
Many thanks to Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thank you to netgalley and Ballantine for the advance copy. 

This novel was excellent - the writing brings a palpable sense of dread in many ways, especially with the mother character and what is happening to her throughout the story.  

It's about a family from the Dominican Republic that moves, in pieces, to the US and specifically to the neighborhood of Nothar Park in NYC. It really interrogates how all three (mom, dad, and daughter) are affected by the move and by making a new home in the neighborhood.  Everything starts to come to a head when developers move in and demolish an old tenement to build luxury condos in the Dominican neighborhood.  Luz, the daughter who moved to the US at age 9, is now an attorney dealing with her ambition and goals and kind of struggling to determine what she really wants, along with her parents who also have sacrificed things for her and for each other, but at times without communicating very well with each other. 

I couldn't put the book down and I really enjoyed it.
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Neruda On The Park is a narrative that weaves together the tale of the Guerrero’s who live in the neighborhood of Nothar Park. This historical and rich neighborhood is under the threat of gentrification as a company wants to bring in new apartment buildings. This new development brings a new atmosphere to a community slowly recognizing that things are changing and becoming unrecognizable. The neighborhood as well as our main characters grapple with this change in their home and are unsure of how to stop it.

The book mainly follows the perspective of Luz and Eusebia and how the changes within the neighborhood also shift the dynamic of their mother-daughter relationship. Eusenia wakes up one day and suddenly has an epiphany that she’s going to fight for her home and what is important to her. On the other hand, Luz is a hard-working Harvard graduate who has been burned out by her job at a law firm and losing her job sparks have a fire within her that maybe this is not the career path she truly wants. She’s tired of always doing what’s expected of her or what people think she should do.

The lengths and desperation that Eusebia will go to keep the neighborhood from change become drastic, while Luz tries to change the trajectory of her career, and Vladimir is carving out a new life for him and his wife in the DR. I appreciated the constant shift of point-of-view while the detailed writing also allowed you to get into the character’s head. This novel is lyrically written, emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking. Natera paints a vivid portrait of the life of immigrants in the United States as well as the trauma that came come with a significant change in our lives. It’s a powerful novel about how fighting for what we believe in, the consequences of our choices, and what we define as home.
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This is an amazing family novel, with fascinating characters who will drive you up the wall and make you fall in love with them, by turns.
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Filled with intense drama and desperation, Neruda On The Park is a story about gentrification, community, sacrifice, and all the hidden things a person has inside. There are big changes happening in the community, and life-altering decisions needing to be made by each of the main characters. As the story progresses, we find out exactly how far each character will go to be true to their perceived selves and to their community.

There were several parts of the book that were utterly heartbreaking, especially considering traditional gender expectations and unhealed trauma. I appreciated the glimpses into this primarily Dominican community, brought to life with depth and nuance. The characters all had huge flaws, specially when it came to their relationships with each other. I didn’t love the way the book ended, but I understand why the author made the choices she did in that respect.

If you enjoy devastating community dramas with flawed characters, this may be the book for you! This was the author’s debut and I would definitely be interested in reading future works from her.
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This novel focuses on a family dealing with the gentrification of their Dominican neighborhood in NYC.  The story is mostly told through the the voices of Luz, a daughter, and Eusebia, her mother.  Luz has recently been fired from her law firm job and falls for the white developer of a new condo complex in her neighborhood.  Eusebia doesn't want her neighborhood to undergo gentrification and resorts to increasingly desperate tactics to stop it.  Vladimir, the father/husband, is largely oblivious to what's going on with his wife and daughter as he is focused on his plans to retire from the NYPD and build a retirement home in the Dominican Republic.  We occasionally hear from the "Tongues", several neighborhood gossips.

This was well-written and mildly interesting, a slice-of-life glimpse into how a specific cultural group reacts to gentrification.
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I loved this book! 

I discovered Cleyvis Natera while reading Alien Nation last year. I enjoyed her story and knew I wanted to continue reading her work. 

I normally don’t enjoy novels that dip into romance, but I found myself drawn to and invested in the relationships between the main and supporting characters. I loved reading about a successful WOC who gets to choose her own path. (She did work hard to get thereβ€”harder than her contemporaries.) Loved the strength shown by all characters in this novel. This book cemented my interest in Natera’s work.
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This book is a valiant effort for a first book.  A good story worth telling.    It was just that so many things seemed so implausible, the premise was good but I think it needed better editing.  Her relationship with Hudson seemed forced and I did not find his character very believable.  I was really bothered by Hudson’s character, extremely rich white guy whose group of friends were such a hodgepodge of gay,straight, mixed race, black,, Asian, and not one other white person in his group, no other family members on the scene.  Where were they?  I feel bad reading an.ARC, especially a book by a first time author,  and not being more positive about it.  I think she tried a little too hard to insert a mix of current social issues and make them fit into her narrative.
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Neruda on the Park is an excellent book that follows a family from the Dominican Republic in New York City.  This book shows the loyalty and bond of family, highlights the pitfalls of ambition and illustrates the power of love.  Highly recommend this novel.  

Thank you, NetGalley, for an advanced copy of this novel.
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I was able to review Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for providing me with an advanced ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Neruda on the Park examines the lives of Luz Guerrero, her mother Eusebia, her father Vladimir, and their friends and family. Luz is an attorney who loses her job in the beginning of the book. The Guereros live in a Dominican neighborhood that is being threatened by Gentrification. A building is being torn down and replaced by a more expensive complex and the members of the community are facing displacement. Eusebia is intent on finding a way to stop the changes in the neighborhood and save her home by any possible means.
This is an elegantly written story that for me embraces the complexities of intersectional identity (gender, ethnicity, culture) and multigenerational relationships within a Dominican family/neighborhood.
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Neruda on the Park is many things, but at its heart, it's a tender portrait of Eusebia and her daughter Luz, two Dominican women who have made their home --their life-- in New York. We meet the women at a chaotic time in their lives where drastic changes are inescapable.. Whip-smart Harvard Law graduate Luz is thrust into a career crisis while Eusebia and the other Dominican families in their neighborhood are facing imminent displacement by a gentrification monstrosity in the form of a new apartment building. Luz, so close to her mother her entire life, gets swept away in an unexpected romance that alters their relationship. 

I don't want to give any more plot detail than that because the beauty is in the unfolding here. I was repeatedly unsure which direction the story was headed, but I was always along for the ride. While the storyline is interesting and remains dynamic, the real stars are the relationships Natera crafts while weaving through the plot. No one felt one dimensional, and at no point was there expository background information cobbled in as an attempt to worldbuild. It's so subtle and so full of depth, but I felt like Luz and Eusebia were people I knew. Were family. 

The subtlety that burns quietly through Neruda on the Park builds to a raging blaze before you realize it. The characters are alive, but so are their struggles, their friends, and their neighborhood. I was not at all surprised to learn that Natera worked on this book for over a decade. The care she put into it absolutely shines through. She tackles difficult, painful topics in a gentle way while exploring the deeply complex nature of mother/daughter relationships and the concept of home -- the concept of love. It'll make you want to hug your mom (or mom-adjacent figure) and look at pictures of your childhood bedroom. It'll make you worry you're not doing enough. It'll make you wonder how we know what is enough. Ultimately, it made me anxious for more from Natera.
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Nothar Park is under gentrification. Buildings are being demolished to be replaced by expensive units. Residents are encouraged to re-locate. As the old buildings come down, one family is experiencing life-altering events. Luz, Ivy League-educated lawyer, loses her job. Eusebia, her mother, always supportive of her daughter’s dreams, falls and sustains a mental break when she hits her head. Vlad, her husband, hard-working detective, dreams of the home he and Luz are building in the Dominican Republic for Eusebia. The owner of the new development falls in love with Luz as Eusebia sets out to inaugurate an orchestrated crime wave to deter newcomers. Vlad is unaware of her sick perspective on life and reluctance to return to their homeland.  Cleyvis Natera’s principal characters pay little attention to others’ feelings. This is frustrating and sad and seems headed toward dangerous, perhaps fatal, repercussions. Her storytelling touches the soul.
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Reading this book was such a unique and captivating experience. I fell in love with each character’s story and perspective from the first chapter. With the neighborhood being the focal point of the story, I felt it took on its own character role and an important one at that. Unknowingly bonding each character to each other, the neighborhood had a way of renewing old friendships and wounds while maintaining its significance to the main plot. 

Fully immersed in this book, I found myself relating to Luz as a woman trying to find her happiness amidst the chaos in her world. After being let go from the law firm where she was a rising associate, she suddenly felt that what society expected and wanted from her wasn’t good enough anymore. She needed to forge a new path without her ever-present mother constantly holding her hand. She began looking for the happiness she had lost along the way.

While Luz was busy discovering her newfound awareness and newfound love, her parents faced the inevitable decisions that come with retirement and security. 

Her mother remained busy building up the courage to find ways to save the neighborhood from gentrification. At the same time, her father secretly tried to speed up the completion of their retirement home in the DR to escape the same neighborhood his wife loved. All this while tensions continued to rise in their community and their home. They begin to drift apart, not agreeing on their future. How will they all eventually find the peace they have worked so hard for, and what will they need to give up to find it?
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A strong debut novel.  3.5 STARS.   This is the story of Luz ( a Ivy league trained lawyer) and her parents Vladimir and Eusebia. There are so many things going on in this book.  Luz and job /life plan issues, a romance for Luz , the relationship between Eusebia and her family/neighbors, and overwhelming the concept of "home" and what it means.  
I liked this book but I didn't love it.   
What I loved- 1-  the premise of dealing with gentrification of beloved neighborhoods (esp immigrant/ethnic treasures) , 2- the magnificent writing style that led me to reread many sentences just for their sheer beauty and 3- The Tongues, the collective voices of the neighborhood women like a Greek chorus commenting on what is happening in the story, 4- the insight into the Dominican community.   
What I didn't like so much - 1-the younger characters especially the relationships between them, (maybe just too modern for me ) as Luz and Angelica, her legal co-workers and her boyfriend Hudson.  2- Eusebia's role in the story (while it was resolved in the end)- it seemed that people didn't really pay attention to her fully.   3- The story itself seemed overcomplicated and choppy. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a chance to read this in exchange for an honest review.  Would enjoy reading more from this author.
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I’ve heard it been told that this is one of the most anticipated books of 2022. Please forgive me, I’m not exactly sure why….

Thank you NetGalley, Ballentine Books and Cleyvis Natera for the advanced access to this book.

I started reading this on February 20th and didn’t finish until March 10th, if that is any indication of my feelings for the intensity of the storyline. It was boring in my opinion. With that said, there was a lot of angst going on in the world that had my attention captured full force and my head space may have been a bit off.

This is the story of Luz and her family; father, Vladimir and mother, Eusebia. They immigrated from the Dominican Republic and have lived in Harlem, NY for the past 20 years. When demolition begins in the neighborhood, Eusebia takes it upon herself to create dangerous and often crazy situations in order to try and stop the construction of luxury condos being built. Luz’s father is secretly trying to hide the surprise of building a retirement home back in the Dominican Republic for Eusebia, not knowing Harlem is her home now.

Meanwhile, Luz, after being fired from her Manhattan law firm, falls for the handsome white developer her mother is fighting against. With tensions flying between mother and daughter, the neighborhood is unsure of its future.

This book has family drama, community, friendship, an unrealistic romance and the sacrifices we make to protect those we love.

While I thought the book was ok, I didn’t love it and I don’t understand how it is one of the most anticipated books of 2022….but that is just my opinion and all books aren’t for all people.  I recommend YOU try this book and judge for yourself.  Happy reading.
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