Cover Image: Flores and Miss Paula

Flores and Miss Paula

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Member Reviews

An interesting peek into the life of a Peruvian family. This started conversations between me and my Peruvian students and I was able to get to know them better.

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Flores and Miss Paula is a book that surprised me. On the one hand, I was drawn to it for myriad personal reasons: It’s about a Peruvian family living in New York City (my husband is Peruvian, now living in the U.S.); it’s about an adult woman whose father has passed away (I lost my own dad in my early 20s); and it’s about the complex relationship between an adult woman and her mother. Despite what I thought I knew about this book going in, though, the way the narrative unfolded was at once unexpected and yet utterly engaging.

This novel is fairly literary, at least more so than what I generally read. The chapters are divided between the two main characters’ perspectives, with Flores’s parts written in the first person and Paula’s parts written in the second person (addressed to her daughter Flores, whom she calls Yoli). There isn’t a clear plot, especially at first, and early on it struck me as somewhat stream of consciousness. Both Paula and Flores and describing what’s going on in the moment, but just as the mind works in real life, they frequently recall memories, feelings, and so on, fluidly going on tangents about these new themes as they arise. Eventually, this all comes together to paint a fuller, richer picture of who each woman is, what their shared history is, and where their relationship is now headed.

A major theme in Flores and Miss Paula is grief over the loss of Martín, the father and husband of the family. He passed away three years prior, but his absence is still deeply felt by his surviving family. Both are still learning to live life without him, and yet both are also still striving to be what he wanted of them. I’ve grieved my own dad for more than a decade now, and the descriptions of grieving here rang true for me. What also rang true was how a daughter and her mother forge a new relationship now that a key family figure is gone. In the Flores family, Martín was the glue that bound them together, and without him, Paula and Flores don’t know how to understand each other or get along. It’s tough to see the divide between them at first, but over time, they find their way to each other.

I mentioned some surprise about this book earlier; what I least expected is how focused on work the novel is. Especially in Flores’s chapters, she’s immersed in the startup company where she works. Her chapters frequently focus on the nuances of the business dealings, the relationships among her colleagues, and how the company will stay afloat. Paula, too, has a fair amount of focus on her own job working at a dollar store and how it’s helping her with her grief. Though I don’t normally have much interest in reading about careers and company nuances (there’s enough of that in real life!), I actually found myself absorbed into both characters—their careers, personal lives, and so on. I’m not sure how the author accomplished that, but kudos to her!

As the Flores parents are both immigrants from Peru, I also loved the frequent references to Peruvian culture, cuisine, and words. Since I lived in Lima for nearly a year, and my husband is Peruvian, it was all very familiar and special to me. Especially in Paula’s chapters, readers get a sense of what Peru is like and why she misses her home country, along with a great infusion of Spanish language. I understood most of it, since I speak intermediate Spanish, though I often asked my husband what some phrases meant. Readers who don’t understand Spanish at all my struggle in parts—having a Spanish to English translator handy could help. Many things are later explained in English, though, especially the more important phrases.

Flores and Miss Paula is a beautifully written novel, with some passages so evocative and moving that they may lead to a few tears. It’s about grief, family relationships, secrets, and the assumptions we make, but it’s also about reconnecting and moving forward despite all that’s happened. This is a wonderful novel to read if you’re interested in immigrant life, Peruvian culture, or mother-daughter relationships. I greatly enjoyed this and look forward to reading more from Melissa Rivero.

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I loved this book so much. Rivero killed it with her sophomore novel! I am looking forward to more of her writing. I loved the mother daughter relationship and exploring the hardships of coming into this country, losing your country and loved ones, and dealing with two people who love each other but can't seem to communication in the same language. There's a lot of burdens carried in this relationship and it was so interesting to get to see Yoli's and Paula's POV. I loved Yoli's chapters the best because they felt so relatable and the crux of her personal journey felt so real to me. I'm not quite sure whether or not I would have made the same choices she did.

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Thank you, NetGalley for the chance to read this advanced copy of Flores and Miss Paula.
I struggled with this book, which makes me bummed because I had such high hopes for it! The chapters felt very long and drawn out. There were side characters and stories that I didn't feel contributed much to the storyline. And I never fully invested in Flores' story. Miss Paula's chapters were easier to get through and felt more concise and understandable, however.
I wish I loved this one more than I did!

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I found the central relationship in this book quite interesting and a good reflection of mother-daughter moments I've sort of been in myself (miscommunication, mostly). The initial tidbit of the paper found under an altar to the deceased father/husband is an intriguing set up, but those expecting it to be a big mystery premise should be aware that this is more an exploration of family and of economic choices faced by people in the U.S.

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This tiny mother/daughter story about grief was incredible. I wish this got more attention in 2023 and now it is my mission to get readers to pick this up. So incrediby touching.

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While this book opens with a bit of a mystery, the story unfolds as a mother and daughter explore their own grief. When the family patriarch dies, his wife and daughter have to pick up the pieces of their own relationship - finding new ways to communicate and understand each other.

Very sweet, “Flores and Miss Paula” does a good job exploring a fractured relationship following a huge loss. The journeys of the main characters can teach readers how to approach trying times with compassion and empathy.

Thanks to Ecco and NetGalley for the ARC!

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I will freely admit that after I finished this book I cried and contemplated how finite life is and thought about how lost I would be if lost my husband like Miss Paula or my dad/best friend like Flores. A truly hopeful story about grief, happiness and finding your place in a world that seems more and more senseless by the day. Highly recommend!

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A moving intergenerational, mother-daughter immigrant story featuring two strong-minded, Peruvian-American women. This was good on audio and a I really enjoyed learning more about the culture. Recommended for fans of authors like Xochitl Gonzalez or Angie Cruz. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy of this latest from a new to me author in exchange for my honest review!

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This was such an interesting and quiet book. It is a dual point of view that shifts between a daughter and mother. Flores is stuck in a job that she feels she can't leave while living with her mother. Her father passed away a few years before, and mother and daughter don't have much of a relationship. They can't even share the grief they both feel. Paula loves her daughter but has never been able to connect with her. They always communicated through her husband. With him gone, Paula feels lost and doesn't know how to help her daughter. At the same time, she is finding a life for herself.

There are not a ton of huge moments in this book. Instead, it is a build-up of a ton of small moments, miscommunications, and feelings. It is beautiful!

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I wanted to like this book more than I actually did, although the book does have a lot of strong points. It’s a story of a mother and daughter living together in Brooklyn, both still grieving the loss of Martin, Paula’s husband and Flores’ father. It’s a story of their complicated relationship as they struggle to move on with their lives.

Monica Flores, in her thirties, is putting all of her energy into her job at a company that sells aquariums. The company has grand dreams but poor financial management, and as one of their financial managers, Flores is in a precarious position. If she glosses over how the company is doing, there will be long term consequences, but if she tells it like it is she’ll be seen as disloyal.

Her mother Paula works at the local dollar store, and is surprised to find that she loves it – stocking goods, organizing displays, helping customers. She feels more connected to the community. She’s also developing feelings for a friend – or maybe they were there all along. But the friend is married, and Flores feels like Paula's betraying the memory of her father.

Unfortunately the two women can’t talk to each other about their struggles. Paula feels Flores is putting too much time into work and not enough into relationships and personal well-being. Flores feels her mother isn’t showing good judgment with her married friend and she feels all their financial burdens are falling on her. As a reader, we see both characters through the other’s eyes.

I loved the authenticity of the characters and their community felt very real to me. I particularly enjoy stories about immigrant families in the U.S., and I learned a lot about Peruvian culture and appreciated the use of Spanish throughout.

I also really appreciated the complexity of Paula’s and Martin’s relationship, both as husband and wife and as parents. Flores sees her father as perfect, but we see through Paula he was very human. At one point Paula thinks about how Martin created division between her and Flores because he was the kinder, more affectionate parent, while she showed her love through cooking and cleaning. But rather than becoming angry, she acknowledges (to herself) that she could have done a better job loving Flores the way she needed to be loved.

Where I struggled with this book was that too much time is spent on Flores’ work at her company. It’s interesting, but there was just too much detail in comparison with the other aspects of the story. I found myself getting very annoyed with Flores, who didn’t seem to have much sensitivity to the people around her, while I often wanted to hear more from Paula’s perspective. The author needed to spend more time developing Flores’ character. For example, she thinks a lot about a failed relationship she had, but we never understand why it failed. I also felt the pacing needed work; much of the book felt very slow, while some things seemed to get wrapped up too quickly at the end. This is a book I finished because it was an ARC, and maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise.

This was a good book, a quiet, thoughtful story about a complex mother-daughter relationship, but ultimately not one I loved.

Note: I received an advanced review copy from NetGalley and publisher Ecco. The book was published December 5, 2023.

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This book reminds me of How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water + any immigrant mom/daughter stories. I love this storyline about the mom working and regaining a sense of what she does after grief of losing her husband. The daughters story was less interesting bc of a lot of drama about the startup company, but appreciated how the MCs are also handling grief in different ways!

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Book Review: Flores and Miss Paula
By Melissa Rivero

Flores and Miss Paula is a heartwarming story about a Peruvian daughter and mother trying to find their way after the death of the man who held them together. Three years prior, Martin, Paula’s husband and Flores’ father died. In a parrellel manner, each struggles with the loss. The story is told over the hardest three months of the year, the months that stretch between Martin’s birthday to his deathday.

Flores works for a start up company that makes aquariums and seems be getting nowhere despite all her hard work. Paula has made due working in a dollar store when her dreams of returning to Peru to run the family store fell apart. They both complain that the other deserves more in life but each fails to have the courage to ask for more. When they are informed that they will have to vacate the apartment in which they’ve always lived as a family, both women feel disoriented. If that wasn’t a big enough disruption, one day while cleaning, Flores finds a note that causes her to question the depth of her parents’ love for one another, burnishing the memories of their marriage. The move, after all, may be the ideal opportunity Flores needs to set off on her own and create some needed distance between the two. We witness both women striving to carve out a meaningful life for themselves while navigating the choppy waters of their relationship.

In a heartfelt but realistic manner, Rivero portrays the depth and imperfections of love that can exist between a mother and a daughter, and with great compassion illustrates the complexities of grief. I especially enjoyed the charming snapshots of life representing Peruvian culture interwoven throughout the story. If you are a reader who seeks engaging diverse books depicting the real complexities of family life, then I highly recommend this little gem of a novel.

My thanks to @MelissaRivero_Author, @EccoBooks and @NetGalley for the gift of this digital arc in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was so good. I really enjoyed the two perspectives to get insight into this mother daughter duo that had a strained relationship. Even though the story was simple I felt like I learned so much about these two characters. I also felt like all of the events that happened to the two women, even if they were simple things, helped them both learn more about themselves and each other. I enjoyed the way that this examines how to repair a fractured relationship between a mother and daughter once the daughter is an adult. This felt like something I could relate to in some ways because of the mother daughter relationship. I think this was a little bit of a slower plot, but it fit because it was such a look at both women internally. This explores self love, generational differences, family dynamics and so much more. I highly recommend this.

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It took me a while to get into the book. The mother-daughter relationship was interesting and I enjoyed reading the chapters about Paula more than Flores. It did start to pick up for me towards the middle of the book. I would probably give it a 3.5

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I thought Flores and Miss Paula was a well-written novel about the mother-daughter relationships. I wasn't as engaged as I often am for this type of novel, though, perhaps because I was much more interested in the Miss Paula sections than the Flores sections. I just found the mother to be a more compelling character. I thought the depictions of NYC were well-done, and I especially appreciated the sections on the two women's workplaces. For me, this was not a memorable book, but it was a decent read.

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Flores and Miss Paula is the new book by Melissa Rivero. The story centers on Flores and her mother who are Peruvian and live in Brooklyn. Like many mother/daughter stories they love one another AND how they show love can be difficult for the other. Earlier in life Martin, Flores' father, had been the bridge but now the women must plot their relationship on their own. Ironically both desire more for the other than they are receiving and that desire and care is a source of conflict.
I enjoyed this story of Flores and her mom as they traversed this new part of life. Sometimes the supporting characters were a bit distracting but showing their full life was clearly important too. All in all, I enjoyed this story. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Flores and Miss Paula is available today.

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After a slow start, this story developed as the relationship between Flores and her mother, Paula, evolved. Flores works in Finance, and is enmeshed in office politics, not sure who to trust. Some of the chapters about Flores in the workplace did get a bit bogged down. Miss Paula works at the local dollar store in Brooklyn, after the death of her husband. Both Flores and her mother are still grieving three years later, learning how to communicate without the buffer of Martin. The touches of Peruvian culture added depth to this beautiful story of a daughter and mother finding their way to understanding each other. Recommended. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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This novel was such a tender portrait of a strained mother-daughter relationship. Flores works in financial for an aquarium startup, and her mother thinks she should be more concerned with getting married. Miss Paula's best friend is a married man, and her daughter thinks she needs to find a different friend.
The story is told in alternating POV. I love the perspective of Paula, as she navigates her grief in losing her husband. I thought Flores' perspective was sometimes lacking a little.
The story is a slow, simple read, in a good way. Just the story of how family sometimes drifts away and the choices they make to fight their way back.

If you're looking for a book that keeps your interest, and lets you move slowly (because, it's December. Let's all slow done), this is one to add to your list.

Isn't the cover of this book beautiful?

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Mediocre - it could have been better.

Unfortunately, this book was not for me. While, I appreciated the alternating chapters between mother and daughter, I had anticipated a different type of narrative. I was not drawn to the storyline of Flores, it had no depth and felt disconnected as if it was it's own book. I thought Miss Paula's story was more engaging and it needed to connect/parallel with Flores but unfortunately it did not - it didn't feel like a true mother/daughter story. I think it would have been better if the author wrote more about 1) Peruvian culture and each characters connection to the country and 2) tied the characters with their differing relationship with Martin (the father).

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