High spirits Short stories on Dominican diaspora

Camille Gomera-Tavarez

Book - 2022

A collection of interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora focuses on one extended family.

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Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Short stories
Published
Montclair [New Jersey] : Levine Querido 2022.
Language
English
Physical Description
198 pages : illustration, genealogical table ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781646141296
1646141296
Main Author
Camille Gomera-Tavarez (author)
  • Stickball
  • Colmado
  • Swimming in circles
  • Cut day
  • Vamo 'pa la playa
  • Payphone
  • Bárbaro
  • Skipping stones
  • Life after the storm
  • Domino
  • High spirits.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Debut author Gomera-Tavarez presents a richly evocative collection of interconnected family stories. These 11 short stories span from the Dominican Republic to the U.S., Puerto Rico, and back, capturing the lives of multiple generations of the Belén family. Central to the family lore is the fictitious town of Hidalpa, home of abuelo's colmado, a general store typical of small towns, and the nexus for the family. Gomera-Tavarez focuses each chapter on a different member of the sprawling Beléns, giving each character room to breathe as they yearn for independence while continually feeling the tug of obligations from their complicated family relationships and heritage. Ordinary scenarios, from youthful misadventures, a visit to the barbershop, and participating in a domino tournament, are punctuated by themes of mental health, internalized colonialism, and machismo, realistically mirroring their influence on daily life in scenes that will easily resonate with readers everywhere. The handwritten family tree is helpful for keeping the connections straight and, along with the familiar Dominican argot—"Dique," "ya tú sabe"—characterize this slim volume as deeply personal and relatable. Seeped in nostalgia and harsh but fierce love, this is a memorable family saga in its own right. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Debut author Gomera-Tavarez presents a richly evocative collection of interconnected family stories. These 11 short stories span from the Dominican Republic to the U.S., Puerto Rico, and back, capturing the lives of multiple generations of the Belén family. Central to the family lore is the fictitious town of Hidalpa, home of abuelo's colmado, a general store typical of small towns, and the nexus for the family. Gomera-Tavarez focuses each chapter on a different member of the sprawling Beléns, giving each character room to breathe as they yearn for independence while continually feeling the tug of obligations from their complicated family relationships and heritage. Ordinary scenarios, from youthful misadventures, a visit to the barbershop, and participating in a domino tournament, are punctuated by themes of mental health, internalized colonialism, and machismo, realistically mirroring their influence on daily life in scenes that will easily resonate with readers everywhere. The handwritten family tree is helpful for keeping the connections straight and, along with the familiar Dominican argot—"Dique," "ya tú sabe"—characterize this slim volume as deeply personal and relatable. Seeped in nostalgia and harsh but fierce love, this is a memorable family saga in its own right. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In an author's note, Gomera-Tavarez notes that her debut collection "started as an exploration of machismo with a dash of magic, inspired by the tradition of lo real maravilloso in the Americas." Housing 11 interconnected short stories "on Dominican Diaspora," the Dominican American author's emotionally sophisticated creation follows a narrative throughline via multiple generations and members of the extended Belén family. Shifting readers to different time periods and locales, including the family's store in a fictional pre-automobile-era Dominican Republic town and a lockdown in a contemporary New Jersey high school, each story utilizes close third-person tellings and serves as a snapshot of the family's broader history. Full of vivid and poetic imagery ("Each slice of wet newspaper a little bit of the truth, hardening into a fragile shell over time"), settings worthy of drinking in, and thematic material ripe for contemplation about identity, intergenerational memory, and patriarchy and toxic masculinity, Gomera-Tavarez's soulfully crafted debut is a sensitive, intrinsically feminist work. Includes an author's note and a family tree hand-drawn by the author. Ages 12–up. (Apr.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In an author's note, Gomera-Tavarez notes that her debut collection "started as an exploration of machismo with a dash of magic, inspired by the tradition of lo real maravilloso in the Americas." Housing 11 interconnected short stories "on Dominican Diaspora," the Dominican American author's emotionally sophisticated creation follows a narrative throughline via multiple generations and members of the extended Belén family. Shifting readers to different time periods and locales, including the family's store in a fictional pre-automobile-era Dominican Republic town and a lockdown in a contemporary New Jersey high school, each story utilizes close third-person tellings and serves as a snapshot of the family's broader history. Full of vivid and poetic imagery ("Each slice of wet newspaper a little bit of the truth, hardening into a fragile shell over time"), settings worthy of drinking in, and thematic material ripe for contemplation about identity, intergenerational memory, and patriarchy and toxic masculinity, Gomera-Tavarez's soulfully crafted debut is a sensitive, intrinsically feminist work. Includes an author's note and a family tree hand-drawn by the author. Ages 12–up. (Apr.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 10 Up—In this debut collection of 11 interrelated yet stand-alone stories, the Afro-Latino Dominican American experience is center stage, a breath of fresh, saltwater air to all readers and a mirror to island-hopping teenagers in the United States with strong ties to their extended families in the Dominican Republic. The collection starts with a visual family tree spanning four generations. Some stories are set in northeastern U.S., but most are set in Hidalpa, a small, fictional coastal town near the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The first story features Gabriel, who suffers from a fit of memory rather than forgetfulness, remembering spilling the habichuelas at his grandmother Mabel Belen's house while in therapy in the U.S. Contradictions prevail with cousins partying hard and remembering church, arguments about islander racism and sexism, the cruelty of older generation husbands, and younger brothers in tow on dates. When his mother finds marijuana in his room, Franklyn is sent from NYC to the island to Tía Lupe's, where he is made a servant but helps his cousin avoid date rape. Memory pervades the collection with all the vicissitudes of global identity-making, including interminable waits on visas. Expect both realism with full phrases of authentic Dominican Spanish, and full-force magic realism with the past ever-present. The last story ties the collection together with La Doña Belen's recounting of family history, with just a hint of sweet fiction. VERDICT A must-buy for libraries serving older teens.—Sara Lissa Paulson Copyright 2022 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This collection of 11 interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora explore machismo, mental health and identity by following one extended family across multiple generations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A collection of interconnected short stories follows a family across multiple generations and explores machismo, mental health, and identity.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

High Spirits is a collection of eleven interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora, from debut author Camille Gomera-Tavarez.It is a book centered on one extended family – the Beléns – across multiple generations.It is set in the fictional small town of Hidalpa – and Santo Domingo and Paterson and San Juan and Washington Heights too.It is told in a style both utterly real and distinctly magical – and its stories explore machismo, mental health, family, and identity.But most of all, High Spirits represents the first book from Camille Gomera-Tavarez, who takes her place as one of the most extraordinary new voices to emerge in years.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

High Spirits is a collection of eleven interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora, from debut author Camille Gomera-Tavarez.It is a book centered on one extended family – the Beléns – across multiple generations.It is set in the fictional small town of Hidalpa – and Santo Domingo and Paterson and San Juan and Washington Heights too.It is told in a style both utterly real and distinctly magical – and its stories explore machismo, mental health, family, and identity.But most of all, High Spirits represents the first book from Camille Gomera-Tavarez, who takes her place as one of the most extraordinary new voices to emerge in years.