Cover Image: Neruda on the Park

Neruda on the Park

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Member Reviews

The setting: Encroaching gentrifcation in New York City's Northar Park [fictional, I believe]  and how members of the Guerreros, a Dominican family, react. Eusebia, the mom, and an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop the construction of luxury condos. Her daughter, Luz, once a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm [fired at the beginning of the book]  becomes romantically involved with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes. Vladimir, an NYPD officer and Luz's father, is so involved in the retirement home he has secretly designed in the Dominican Republic with Luz, is oblivious to the tensions between mother and daughter, husband and wife.

Throw in a bunch of other people, particularly Hudson, the developer, Angelica, a childhood friend of Luz's, "The Tongues" [loved]--the neighborhood gossips, Raenna, Luz's former boss, and Cuca and Juan Juan [a whole other story!!} and you have quite the cast of characters.

Immigrants, hardships, mothers and daughters, developers vs. community--all familiar stories. And Luz, the local girl who went to Harvard and made good.

I  did enjoy a few descriptions: 
"Her mothers' forehead took up a generous portion of her face..."
 "...even if the parts themselves were meticulously constructed she had that man-made look people have when they've had plastic surgery."
"Her body was still in a pleaure trance."

The book is divided into three segments: demolition, excavation, and grounding. 

In several instances--indeed, from the beginning, the plot development/twists were obviously telegraphed [IMHO]. 

This is a fast-paced read that kept me going--until it did not. At about 80% in, I felt it spiraling down. No spoiler from me, but the last 10%, though believable in terms of plot development--I had wondered--just left me disappointed.

So I'd recommend, for a slice of life, view into the Dominican culture, what happens to immigrants in their struggles against developers, but not wholeheartedly. And it definitely reminded me of a book recently read--Olga Dies Dreaming.

This is Natera's debut novel. I look forward to reading her next book.
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Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read the book in exchange for a review.

This book can be about everything. From keeping the community and home the same to a family’s life. Additionally, this book is just more than just the life of a mother and a daughter.
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A beautiful debut novel. Eusebia and her husband, Vladimir, along with their daughter, Luz, have lived in Nothar Park which is a predominately Dominican part of New York for twenty years. Having come from the Dominican Republic.

Eusebia is considered an elder in the community and she isn’t happy about the gentrification going on around them. Especially when the owner of their building decides to go condo and sell the units. So they must move out or be bought out. They are both proud of their daughter, a lawyer in a fancy firm downtown.

All the while behind Eusebia’s back, Luz is helping her father design the perfect house in the Dominican Republic for him and his wife when they retire. They have worked hard and sacrificed for their dreams and their daughter.

After an accident, Eusebia is even more determined than ever to keep her neighborhood as it is. She enlists her group of women friends and they come up with a plan that may get them all killed.

Meanwhile, Luz has lost her job and fallen hard for the man leading the demo project. This pits mother and daughter against each other and will lead to dangerous results.

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. Natera’s writing weaves together themes of family, identity, and community and what we are willing to sacrifice for those we love.

It is a beautifully told story.

NetGalley/May 17th, 2022 by Ballantine Books
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Cleyvis Natera's Neruda on the Park covers a wide variety of topics and themes and includes many interesting plotlines. I found the characters well-rounded, but they lacked a bit more that I was looking for.
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Thank you to Ballantine/Random House for inviting me to review Neruda on the Park from Cleyvis Neruda.  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.

This book encourages the reader to perhaps sit with a specific world, for indeed to me a neighborhood can be it's own world, and reflect on how mothers and daughters can love each other and yet have very different ideas about relationships, gender roles/careers, and the future.  I found Luz's story more engaging, perhaps simply because I can relate more to being a daughter struggling to understand parental expectations and hopes while needing and wanting to have independence and own success separate from other parts of life and identity.  Yet from the start we wonder what has happened to Luz's career in a law firm?

There is a well executed, simmering beneath the surface tension that highlights racial and ethnic tensions 
surrounding gentrification.  These are timely themes and should be examined for the conversations they can start.  did Luz's work and/or identity intersect with her romantic relationship or career?  

What and who is home, what parts of identity and family matter the most, and can we find balance among the different roles we play find balance or are we at times forced to live a life out of sync?  To lie to protect others or ourselves or simply because we aren't sure what the truth is?  these are ideas and questions raised by this striking novel and for me suggest it would be great for book clubs who embrace literary analysis and who seek inclusive, diverse books.
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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 Domenican 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.

The book tackles a variety of issues and problems among the characters and brings up many interesting plot lines. but I found it slow moving and was bothered by the characters insensitivity to each other.
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Such a beautifully written book with haunting origInal characters. About a Dominican family in NYC, Luz was just fired from her job at a law firm, her mother can’t get out of bed, a young boy was just murdered, part of the neighborhood is being demolished. The characters seem to flounder looking for something and I loved their journeys. The climax is heartbreaking
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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera is a stellar debut novel.
From challenging family dynamics to gentrification in America, there is a lot to unpack with this book. Natera does a great job with narrating her story through two POVs: Luz  and her mother Eusebia.
I felt a strong sense of connection with Luz’s parents' and their decision to sacrifice everything to ensure Luz could pursue her law degree. While I did not care initially for Luz’s boyfriend, by the end I appreciated his part in the grand scheme of her character development.

I cannot wait to see more in Cleyvis Natera’s future as an author! I will definitely be purchasing this book for my personal collection. Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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It took some time for me to get into this book. Ultimately I enjoyed the narrative of the daughter Luz more than the mother Eusebia. Perhaps I was anxious that something terrible was going to happen or I simply didn’t trust some of the characters like the former boss and new boyfriend. (Full disclosure, maybe I just read too many mysteries and I’m always looking for a clue.) 

It was certainly a different kind of immigrant family story from others I’ve read and I appreciated that. And I’m glad that there was a reason for Eusebia‘s behavior which I struggled with.
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Neruda on the Park
To thine own self be true. That seems to be the sentence that sums up this thrill of a novel. It doesn’t start out out as a suspense thriller, but Cleyvis Natera slowly and with rapturous prose unravels the story of Luz and Eusebio Guerrero parallel with the fraying of their mostly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. The novel is divided into three parts, Demolition, Excavation, and Grounding. Luz is the daughter of Eusebio and Vladimir. 

They left the Dominican Republic to settle in NYC. The parents sacrificed to see that Luz finished law school and passed the Bar. She is a practicing lawyer in a prestigious Manhattan law firm when she is summarily dismissed. This event kicks off the  novel and immediately drew me in, I wanted to know why. How could this happen? Well, small spoiler here, that’s not really the crux of this story. 

The bigger issue is the coming gentrification of their neighborhood. And what must be done to stop the construction and destruction. And Eusebio has a plan that is crazy and sets the thriller in motion. Several times, I asked of Eusebia, what are you thinking? But remember my first sentence. To thine own self be true. By the third part of the novel, the ominous clouds are forming and the storm of suspense rises to a thrilling but not complete conclusion.

Are the lies we tell ourselves harmless? What kind of damage can we wrought?These themes are explored under a big umbrella that also addresses the idea of “home” as physical place or psychic peace.  Really enjoyed how Cleyvis built this story and the emotional mother daughter relationship. It was damn near perfect plotting and pacing. Besides the cliched boyfriend hookup for Luz, there isn’t much to dislike. Is the neighborhood decaying or is Eusebia’s perspective crumbling? You’ll have to read this debut novel to find out? Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine for an advanced DRC. The book drops May 8, 2022. Mark your calendar.
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I just loved it! This story of a Dominican family in New York City seemed long and luxurious like a multigenerational tale. There were large themes including gentrification, personal identity, culture, the concept of home that kept me thinking and questioning. Finally, there were excellent neighborhood characters and crackpot plans to address issues that remind me of my favorite domestic thrillers.
This novel had it all, and you will be thinking about these characters for a long time after.

Neruda on the Park is the tentative name for a set of buildings that will displace a long standing Dominican area in NY. Luz, the prodigal daughter is called in to assist defend the neighborhood while she is dealing with a recent job loss and potential new and very different boyfriend.

I was completely immersed in this story and recommend it to all daughters who are still proving themselves to mom :). If you like generational drama, cultural conundrums, New York stories, fascinating characters then #NerudaInThePark is for you !  #RandomHouse #Ballantine #netgalley
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Within the massive NYC, this story is about a group of friends in Nothar Park that have immigrated from the Dominican Republic. From the beautiful mountains to the blue oceans that they once knew in the DR, they were now feeling the constant agony from loud noises, crowded streets and crime in NYC. But this book shows that within the insanity of big city living, there's a sense of personal wholeness and peace being with those you love.

The main character, Luz, wakes up to a pounding demolition close by. Then when she gets to work, she finds out that for whatever reason, she has lost her job as a lawyer in a large firm. Luz lived with her adored Mami and Papi who supported her way through Harvard and Columbia Law School. She was also close to a mentor, Raenna, who said, "I know you're meant for bigger things." It's the line they always use during exit interviews. The big question was: what were her plans? Her Mami was anxious for her to take a new job that was offered. "The people who love you the most are the ones who will do their best to control you." Yet, would her wealthy new boyfriend, Hudson, offer something more exciting?

Reading this story was like taking a wild ride in a cab around NYC traveling at high speeds and at times screeching on the brakes. Sometimes I would have to reread sections and slow down to understand what was happening. It addressed relationships, prejudice, crime and health issues. There was a good sense from this book what it would be like to be an immigrant from the DR with the ongoing fears many have had from ICE storming into a home. At one point, Luz asked her dad, "Do you ever regret the way your life turned out?" I suspect this made many readers pause. 

My thanks to Cleyvis Natera, Ballantine Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced copy with an expected release date of May 17, 2022.
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If you enjoyed Into the Heights, you may also like this one. This one was another read about family and about following your dreams. Add in a twist of romance and you create quite the combo. Thank you for the opportunity to read this one!
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I did not finish this book, I got tired of the vulgar language.  The story line is okay.  Why should the word F__K always be a response?  I can have a conversation and never use that word.  Of all the English language is there not enough words to use instead of that?
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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera drew me in quickly.  This is a story about a family living in the U.S. for many years after immigrating from the Dominican Republic.  Although she is a successful attorney, Luz is still living with her parents in the apartment she grew up in surrounded by a tight knit community of Dominican neighbors.  Her father, Vladimir dreams of retiring from his job with the police department and returning to the Dominican Republic, while her mother, Eusebia, decides to lead a fight against gentrification in their neighborhood.  In the midst of this, Luz struggles through a career crisis.  Luz must decide if she wants a future that makes her happy or pleases her parents, especially her mother.  Her mentor/boss is coaching her toward a strategic career move and her new, amazing boyfriend is pushing for a different choice altogether.

That is all I can say without giving away too much, and there certainly is a lot going on in this story.  I certainly enjoyed reading this book.
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I requested to read and review this book for free from Ballantinr Books an Imprint of Random House. This book had drama, romance and mystery. The characters each how their own feeling to changes the neighborhood. How some think has needed to happen a while ago, some think great idea ans where others thinglk change is bad. Each person has the right to their opinion l. But the question remains what you do or how you brace it makes part of your future. Are people easily influenced or deep down that part of ourselves was always there. How far is it far? Does changes equal safety and equality? This book is for a mature reader and can be read anywhere!
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. 

Where is home? Is it a place, feeling, structure, community? Is it all of these? What would you give to live in the place you feel is your home? This is a story of a Dominican immigrants who live in NYC. A place where other Dominican immigrants have settled. A place where the culture is alive and thriving, even if the residents struggle against racism, poor living conditions and few opportunities to move on from the community even if they want to. 

Luz is a high powered associate at a law firm when the rug is pulled out from under her. She graduated from Harvard and then Columbia Law. She now faces a different future than the one she envisioned. What’s more, she may not want any part of that dream as she moves forward. That’s problematic as she and her father are building a home in the DR which they believe is where Eusebia, Vladimir’s wife and Luz’s mother, wishes to return to. Luz’s job has provided the money necessary to build that home. 

Eusebia has no such dream. When the unoccupied tenement across from theirs is demolished for bougie condos Eusebia decides she must prevent the project from moving forward. Her community is everything to her. Her behavior changes wildly. Her choices are off the chart. She recruits members of the community to help her carry out questionable, dangerous and frankly illegal actions. The “tongues” notice, but say nothing. Vladimir is too busy with work and the new home to pay much attention. Luz has no time for her mother as she has embarked on a relationship with Hudson, whose family is developing the new residences. He comes from money, power and privilege.

Eusebia’s story of her life in the DR is compelling, but it is not exactly what has brought her to carry out her plan to destroy Neruda On The Park. Luz’s story has too many stereotypes. Vladimir’s story is told mostly by Eusebia so we learn only what she wants us to know. None of these characters is likable or sympathetic. 

The author is Dominican. I was hoping for a story that really gave me insight into how this community formed in NYC. What brought people here to settle. What are their stories. There is certainly a lot of detail given to the cooking and serving of traditional foods, but only Eusebia’s story, told in pieces, told late in the book gave me that insight. 

I gave the book a 4, but round it down for the stories not told, the stereotypes too easily used and the “wrap it up” ending.
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This is one of those beautifully written stories about the difficult and all too common realities that families and communities face with ongoing gentrification. 

What becomes known as Neruda on the Park is the threat that lurks throughout the whole story. As gentrification closes in on Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of NYC, Luz, her family, and community are faced with uncertain futures and varying opinions on how to move forward. Luz’s mother Eusebia decides she knows what’s best and enlists the community to take actions to fight against being displaced. She believes she’s doing the right thing, but her plan has consequences for everyone. 

Meanwhile, Luz’s father Vladmir excitedly plans in secret to build a retirement home in the Dominican Republic for him and his wife to enjoy. Luz is also thinking of a life beyond Nothar Park after she is fired from her law firm and meets a wealthy white man. 

Cleyvis did a great job packing so much life into this story. It’s shocking how deep this book is with only 336 pages. I left this book feeling like I knew the family and community so well. There’s so much I could say about the relationships in this story. Especially the changes and parallels in the mother daughter relationship.

This is truly a story about family, community, and how far some will go to protect those they love. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine for the eARC
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A very emotional story of family dynamics. The discovery of how are parents and culture can cause us to act and react to changing life situations. The neighborhood characters were very real.
I found it implausible that people would fall into the crazy schemes to preserve their neighborhood.
Enjoyed the book. Thank you NetGalley!
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I received this book as an ARC and this is my review. This story highlights the life and strife of a family and their neighbors who moved to New York from the Dominican Republic. The characters are flawed and their lives are filled with drama as their beloved neighborhood is besieged by gentrification and its ultimate goal is  determined. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy the gritty and gutsy taste of daily life turned upside down.
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