The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea.
The House of Broken Angels is the beautifully written, raucous and heart-breaking story of the de La Cruzes, a Mexican family living in present day southern California. The main character is Miguel Angel de La Cruz, or “Big Angel,” patriarch of the family and a larger than life figure. He is 70 years old and suffering from terminal cancer.
The central theme revolves around a complex web of love and resentment spanning three generations. Family members jockey for their perceived rightful place. The passage of time intensifies unresolved issues, widening the breach between family members to the point of seeming irreconcilability. Big Angel struggles to unite his family, and to make peace with God, his wife and children, and extended family, especially his half brother, “Little Angel.” Through his attempts at reconciliation and coming to terms with his own mortality, the past is revealed. The characters are developed and the story told with such detail that the reader understands and appreciates each individual’s struggle and how they are all bound together despite their differences. The story-telling is non-judgmental and at once tender, humorous, raunchy and uplifting. I didn’t want this book to end.
Review by Barry Novick