2 out of 4 stars
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This is a book I really wanted to love, but just couldn’t. After seeing the description, I was excited to read this book. However, the more I read The Women in White, the less I wanted to finish it.
The Women in White by Silvie Vargas follows the daily lives of four generations of women from one family: Luisa, Josi, Carmen, and Samantha. It begins in the early 1900s in Puerto Rico, and ends in modern day New Jersey. The book details both their struggles and their triumphs. Even though all the women take unique paths in life, they all share certain core qualities. Most importantly, all these women have an intense love for their families. They are completely devoted to their family members and would do anything to help them. The book describes how family kept them going in times of despair, and how family created joy in times of success.
The premise of this book is really interesting and sweet, but unfortunately the execution was very poor. There doesn’t seem to have been any professional editing at all. There are too many typos and grammatical errors to list. In addition, the book is not separated into chapters. Instead, it all runs together and turns into one long jumbled mess. The story jumps back and forth, mentioning people and events that haven’t been introduced yet. It also constantly switches between the future and the present. This make the book incredibly confusing to read.
One of the biggest issues I have with this book is that the description doesn’t accurately reflect its content. Its official blurb says it is about Samantha going on a “quest to discover her roots...one lonely night in New Jersey”. I still have no idea which night that quest took place. The book’s ending suggests it was written from the perspective of Josi, not Samantha. I ended this book with more questions than answers.
This was one of the most exhausting books I’ve ever read. I almost gave up without finishing multiple times. Right from the beginning, it was very difficult to understand the plot because the book never established the location or time period of the events it was describing. I was eventually able to determine, based on context clues, that the location was Puerto Rico. The year (1901) was never stated until at least 50 pages in. It was impossible to be able to appreciate the characters and themes because I was too busy trying to understand the basics of the setting. I think if I read this book a second time, I would probably enjoy it much more because I would have a better understanding its context. The women of the story are all written to be kind, loving, and strong. I liked all their personalities but was too distracted by the scattered plotline to be able to enjoy it.
The one thing I did really like about this book is that it incorporated a lot of historical facts about Puerto Rico, such as how the education system changed once America took over the island. I found that information very interesting. I just wish it had been presented in a more organized manner. Throughout the entire novel, the author’s profound love for Puerto Rico really shone through. The commentary on how both Spanish and American invaders tried to stamp out the culture and economy of Puerto Rico was very eye-opening. As an American with many Puerto Rican friends, I was surprised to learn of the many negative effects American authority had on life in Puerto Rico.
Due to the poor editing, I have to give this book a 2 out of 4 star review. The story has a lot of potential, but the author needs to commit to adding structure and professional editing to the book. Also, a lot of the dialogue is in Spanish and only some of it is followed by the English translation, so I would not recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t have a passable understanding of Spanish.
The Women in White
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