“What he wanted to say was that something is always lost; even when we are the ones migrating, we end up being occupied.”
Patricia Engel’s INFINITE COUNTRY is a soaring story about a family torn apart by borders and immigration status. Set in Colombia and the US, the book explores not only the trauma undocumented immigrants face but the power of family, home, and fidelity against all odds.
INFINITE COUNTRY spectacularly opens with teenage Talia fleeing a prison school. American-born but raised in Colombian, Talia must get to Bogotá to catch a flight to be reunited with her mother and siblings living in the US. Told throughout Talia’s journey is nearly 20 years of her family’s history: her parents Elena and Mauro’s immigration to the US, the struggle with Mauro’s deportation, and the impossible decisions the mixed-status family must make to survive.
What really sets INFINITE COUNTRY apart is the inclusion of Colombian folklore. The myths are compelling and provide a discussion of the concept of home. Engel beautifully explores the eternal connection a person has to their homeland and the grief of leaving it behind. When living in the US, Elena constantly longs for Colombia. She struggles because she cannot go back and must work to create a new home for her family in a country that villainizes and exploits them.
Though I loved this book, I did have a little trouble towards the end. The narrative unexpectedly shifts from third person to first, which was interesting because it allowed for new perspectives but was slightly jarring. As well, I’m conflicted about the ending. The story was so complex and layered but the ending felt too neatly wrapped in bow. On the other hand, with this type of story we are conditioned to expect anguish and agony so it was a welcome relief that the ending was hopeful.
At around just 200 pages, I’m completely astonished with the amount of emotion, heart, and life contained in INFINITE COUNTRY! This gripping family narrative with equal parts heartache and hope is deeply moving, exceptional, and a must read!
** Avid Reader Press provided the book for honest review
- Title: Infinite Country
- Author: Patricia Engel
- Published: March 2, 2021 (Avid Reader Press)
- Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Own Voice
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *