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A Handbook to Luck (2007)

door Cristina Garcia

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1017211,562 (3.71)2
The story of three children in the late sixties, Enrique, from Cuba living in California with his magician father, Marta in the slums of San Salvador who has to leave school to help support her family, and Leila from a wealthy family in Tehran. We follow them across the next twenty years from childhood to adulthood.… (meer)
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1-5 van 7 worden getoond (volgende | toon alle)
It's been over 3 years since I read this book. I don't remember there being much luck in this book, at least not good luck. I suppose it could be a handbook to bad luck.

It wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. And it was a rather sad tale and things didn't wrap up as I expected. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Cristina Garcia created some very interesting characters. I was not completely caring what happened to all of them. ( )
  bcrowl399 | Feb 20, 2019 |
Enrique, Marta, and Leila are three young adult immigrants to the U.S. coming of age in the mid-1970s. They live at the margins; Enrique because his father's itinerant career as a magician keeps him and his son on the brink of poverty; Leila because her family is not sure whether to leave Iran, which is about to depose the Shah and usher in something that will disrupt their privileged, westernized lives; and Marta, fleeing an abusive husband and the turmoil of the coming civil war in El Salvador.

Enrique is the locus, as he'll cross paths with Leila, who briefly becomes his lover and who he pines after for the rest of his life. Marta becomes his maid after he becomes a semi-wealthy Los Angeles businessman. I'm not sure why Garcia did not orchestrate some kind of connection and encounter between Marta and Leila; each chapter is named for one of the three characters, and in a locked room novel like this it seems like all three should have crossed paths with each other.

Marta and Leila witness and survive some pretty harsh incidents in their countries before landing in the U.S. Garcia's writing doesn't ring exciting in these passages. Chronicling the atrocities of the "White Hand" death squads in El Salvador or the brutal manhandling of the post-Shah religious police ought not to come off as bland.

She does a good job evoking the zeitgeist of the mid-to-late 1970s to early 1980s in the post-Watergate, pre-AIDS and PC United States, the brutal political landscape of Central America, and the cataclysm about to shake Iran. Material like this should drip with passion. ( )
  chorn369 | Feb 15, 2011 |
I really liked this book. The characters were interesting - although flawed and not well suited to care for his son, I found the magician to be very likable. His love for his son was palpable, and his struggle to maintain his career took many interesting turns. The other characters also felt very real to me, and their intersections seemed plausible. Not always happy, but that seemed authentic. Garcia writes with such detail, and the characters and settings really came alive for me. There was a lot of symbolism, and a deeper level of meaning, for which I would appreciate a second reading. ( )
  mostlyliterary | Jan 24, 2009 |
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The story of three children in the late sixties, Enrique, from Cuba living in California with his magician father, Marta in the slums of San Salvador who has to leave school to help support her family, and Leila from a wealthy family in Tehran. We follow them across the next twenty years from childhood to adulthood.

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