Anna is a successful New York City book editor visiting her parents at home in the Caribbean for a few weeks when she discovers that her mother, Beatrice, has breast cancer.
Anna is a successful New York City book editor visiting her parents at home in the Caribbean for a few weeks when she discovers that her mother, Beatrice, has breast cancer. Deeply distrustful of the United States, Beatrice refuses to be treated there, against her doctor's recommendation. Nunez plays out this dramatic scenario quietly, her finely tuned narrative as graceful and measured as Beatrice, a woman who prides herself on her impeccable manners and appearance. And yet Nunez manages to imbue remarkable texture, weaving in commentary on the complicated history and status of race and class on the island. She also develops a rich portrait of a family dynamic that reflects the changes the community has seen over the course of Anna's lifetime, as well as those things that have not changed, for better and for worse. Anna, thinking about the intimacy of discussing books with another person, reflects, "Good fiction takes one through the corridors of the human heart," and Nunez delivers a book that lives up to that standard. The ending, in which one man represents a salvation of sorts for both Anna and Beatrice, feels a bit too neatly wrapped up for the messiness of real life, but there is also a beauty in the unity it brings to mother and daughter, who had been pulling in opposite directions for so long.