Cover Image: How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

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Member Reviews

Told through workforce program interviews and various job and other applications, readers will get to know and love Cara, a 56-year-old Dominican woman living in New York City who lost her factory job several years ago. Although much of her story is sad, Cara is a force to be reckoned with and there is a lot of humor in how her story is told. This was a quick read with a lot of heart.
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THIS. BOOK. IS. A. GIFT. Angie Cruz is a genius (I also loved Dominicana, and cannot recommend Cruz' work enough). Told as a series of interviews & job applications for workforce development, Cruz lays bare the absurdity of the social safety net system and what it asks of participants while providing keen, heartfelt insights into the lived experience of a senior immigrant woman trying to make ends meet in a harsh city. Full of heart, wit, sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes ugly cry sad, I absolutely loved this novel.
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What a wonderfully heart warming story! I do think the best way to experience this book is through audio.
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Angie Cruz captured the life of many immigrants beautifully. The protagonist, Cara, is a Dominican woman that is a a stern “Boomer” through and through. She is independent, doesn’t talk about her emotions, and is abusive, but that’s all she knew growing up. As each page turns you are rooting for Cara to win! I sympathized, I laughed, I cried. 

The immigrant struggle effects multilayers of people, and Cruz, through 1st person narration, developed a story with incredible depth. A person’s life story is never just black and white, and Cara’s journey and life progression teaches readers just that.
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How could I turn down an Angie Cruz book?  So full of soul, sass, and secrets!  The title drew me in with its metaphorical phrase, inducing a tickle of humor questioning… how could that possibly happen?  Then I’m introduced to Cara, and instantly I think I know this character, an individual, caught between a rock and a hard place with only the bed she made in secret and a sense of humor to get her through.  Diving in, I was engrossed in the authors various formats of text as the tale unraveled interestingly, with me hanging on to each session, not episode!
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The first novel I have read ever that gives an authentic voice to an immigrant older woman. 

I enjoyed the way author weaves in the voice of main character to the overall story. 
I particularly love the way a story told by the main character leads to more stories bringing the character to life. 

I heard my abuelita’s style of talking in these pages. 

Absolutely LOVE!
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Blown away.

Those two words are the only ones that truly express what this book does.

It's powerful. 

Encompassing the story of one woman, but representational of the lived experience of an entire group of people, this might be one of the most important reads of the year.

"Maybe sometimes I'm too strong. But a mother needs to be strong."

"Write this down: Cara Romero is still here, entera."
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HOW NOT TO DROWN IN A GLASS OF WATER by Angie Cruz is a fairly unique reading experience. The story (set in 2009 in New York City) is told almost as a stream of consciousness from Cara Romero, a fifty-something immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She has lost her job at a factory and meets for twelve sessions with an employment counselor for Seniors so that she can collect benefits and hopefully find another position. As observers of her one-sided interviews, readers learn about her family, including sister Angela and estranged son Fernando, about her neighbors, including la Vieja Caridad (an older woman who needs her help) and her friends like Lulu. There are numerous Spanish (or Spanglish) phrases which the reader has to interpret from context, but that experience adds to the sense of isolation and marginalization which Cara must feel in an environment where she is not a native speaker. Increasingly in need of money for rent, Cora considers work as a nanny, caregiver, school security guard and more. Her responses to the bureaucratic forms are instructive about her perspective, if cringe-worthy at times. Cruz has creatively and sensitively crafted a story involving poverty and gentrification, family ties and survival.
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I LOVED How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz.  This book is about Cara Romero and she is something else!  She has in her 50's and has lost her job.  She visits a job counselor for 12 sessions and talks about her life.  She talks about everything, from her upbringing to her culture to her estranged son.  I loved the narrator and how authentic she sounded.  I really could relate with Cara, she being Dominican and I being Cuban.  I laughed and I cried.  Will she get the job at the end?  You have to read to find out!  Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
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In How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water Cara Romero tells her story to a job counselor over 12 sessions.  We learn about the ups and downs in her life. She sums it up by stating “…no matter how difficult my life is, I have always found a solution to my problems.”  Since I am not Spanish speaking, a list of definitions would have been helpful.
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This is an incredible book.  It's told solely through the voice of Cara Romero, a Dominican woman in her 50s who lives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.  The story is told via her sessions with a job counselor after Cara loses her job in a factory in the great recession.  Cara tells the story of her life, her escape from her husband, her relationship with her sister, her neighbors, and her tragic estrangement from her son.  She doesn't always show herself in a positive light; she is not always the hero of her story.  Her story is complicated and nuanced and deeply moving.  Even though she is not always likeable, I was left loving Cara and hoping for good things for her, even though the macro forces surrounding her clearly are not in her favor.

Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In this novel, the main character looks back on a life full of ups and downs that, despite various internal and external pressures, is full and well lived.  When Cara Romero is laid off from her job at a local factory at the start of the Great Recession, her life and expectations for the future are thrown into doubt.  She is connected with a job counselor but, instead of discussing how to find a new job, she spends the time reflecting on the story of her own life.  In the course of 12 sessions, Cara shares her early life and troubled marriage, her relationship with her now estrange son, the community she has built in the building where she has longed lived, and the pressures she feels in a neighborhood and the city that is rapidly changing.  

Cara is a strong and complex character and the author employs an innovative structure to tell her story and the ways it intersects with broader societal issues, offering perceptive insights on the nature of family and larger economic forces.  

Highly recommended!
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I loved this short but impactful book about Cara and her experiences. The format of interviews and documents worked really well and we really got to know her and all her struggles. Highly recommend.
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4 stars 

After reading and LOVING _Dominicana_, I was thrilled to be able to read this next work from Angie Cruz. This book, while also a fantastic read, operates in a totally different structural and character-centered realm than its predecessor, and Cruz's versatility is utterly unbeatable here. 

Cara, the m.c., is a riveting individual, and she's the kind of person that every reader can relate to and find both frustration in and blistering empathy for over the course of the novel. Throughout the work, Cara participates in 12 sessions with a job counselor whose central task is to determine whether Cara should continue receiving unemployment benefits and/or what Cara is best suited to do next. What readers - and her counselor - learn instantly is that Cara is not a drone. She's a complex human with a rich story that humanizes her and continues to unfold not just in constant revelations from the past but also through up to the moment developments. Cara discusses her marriage, her relationships with friends and her son, her career path, and so much more, and through this evolved exploration, Cara endears herself to both readers and her counselor. 

The structure, organization, timing of informational release, and character development are all so intriguing here, and my only complaint is that there wasn't even a bit more of the story coming through. I just wanted more time with this character. 

This is, in some foundational ways, an experimental novel that I expect more traditional and less adventurous/advanced readers may find confusing or even a bit disjointed, but readers who are interested in a play with structure and form featuring a fantastic character at the center will leave this piece incredibly pleased. I'm already excited to read what Cruz produces next.
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I loved Dominicana so I was really looking forward to this one. The structure is unusual, consisting of one-sided interviews of an unemployed woman attending job counseling sessions, interspersed with her paperwork. This format provides unique insights into her life in a chatty confessional style that is both humorous and poignant, but I did find it to be rambling and unfocused at times. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
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The recession of 2008, upended the life of Dominican immigrant Cara Romero. "This country is like a fisherman with fast hands...who shows you the big fat fish, but when he cooks, he says it shrink(s)."

Cara Romero, age 56, worked in a factory of little lamps from 1980-2006, performing "whatever job needed doing" until the factory relocated to Costa Rica. After one year, " belts, my blazers, my dresses-lost in the closet." Current unemployment benefits would soon run out. In 2009, Cara qualified for the twelve session Senior Workforce Program which would provide pre-vocational training to prepare seniors to reenter the work force.

"So much can happen in the life...I never imagined...sitting New York. With a husband that almost killed me, and a son that will not return home...we can't always plan what is going to happen." It is clear, however, that Cara wanted to work. "What is a person without an occupation? During the course of the twelve sessions, she shared her outlook on life, deepest secrets and regrets.

Cara lived in a rent-stabilized building in Washington Heights, New York. The building manager frequently inspected the apartments "to find reasons to throw us out." Gentrification tactics would ultimately raise rents significantly. Cara's rent was in arrears. Her recent surgery bill was being paid in dribs and drabs, health insurance terminated, when the lamp factory closed its doors.

Character Traits: The Positives
*Cara is strong.
*Cara wants to make the world a better place.
*Cara is a fast worker. In the lamp factory, her quota was filled in half the time.

Character Traits: The Challenges
*Cara prefers not to talk, because "if you don't talk, it is more easy to forget the things in life."
*"Cara cries until (she) undrowns from the inside."

Will Cara secure a job after oral interviews, career skills matching and free psychic readings from Alicia? Tune in to find out! Cara's life experiences unfold through first person narration. A deep and compassionate understanding of our protagonist is masterfully penned by author Angie Cruz. Highly recommended.

Thank you Flatiron Books and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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After the factory she worked at for two decades shut down, Cara Romero, a Dominican woman in her fifties, wasn't sure how to reenter the job market. Through a series of interviews with a job counselor, Cara shares bits and pieces of her life story, from love affairs to building a community to her long lost son. 

This book masterfully plays with form, using the stories from Cara's counseling sessions, job applications, rent statements, and more to create a multifaceted picture of her life. Cara's narrative voice is so full of life, and I was drawn into the story immediately. Angie Cruz has such incredible range!
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