I’ll give fair warning- I think I’ll be giving an unpopular opinion on this novel, but please bear with me and hear me out.
The Affairs of the Falcóns was a difficult read for me to review, in the sense that I felt I understood what the author was trying to relay to readers, however the message didn’t impact me the way I think was intended.
In the novel, the Falcóns are illegal Peruvian immigrants who are trying to provide a better future for their children. Main character Ana is a wife with a full time factory worker job, who also executes a multitude of tasks for their loan shark sponsor/cousin, who calls herself Mama. Her husband is a cab driver in NYC, trying to support his family and ideally be able to afford an apartment of their own.
Ana takes things with a grin-and-bear-it attitude, knowing that despite difficulties and discomfort, she is providing opportunities for her children that they wouldn’t have gotten in Peru, while also keeping the family together. However, this also means taking risks for the sake of her family. When Mama’s husband proves to be a seedy, greedy player who likes to trade debt repayment with personal favors, Ana finds herself conflicted- can she really turn down money that could provide for her family?
In my opinion, I think Rivero is trying to show the desperation for safety and security in undocumented immigrants, and how dire their situation can be- at any moment their families can be ripped apart. I will never be able to understand that kind of terror, and I would never assume to. I think that sharing these stories is vitally important for everyone’s understanding and compassion for those in these situations. Yet, I also think that The Falcóns only scratches the surface of this topic. The emotional conflict didn’t resonate with me, and often I felt the writing leaned towards melodramatic. In the heated moments, I did feel terrified for Ana and her children, but then I lost compassion when Ana relayed what happened to her friend, as it came across to me as embellishment. I also thought the whole story arc was a little flat- the ending was a good punch, but it was almost abrupt after such a slow, dramatic pace. I also felt that if Rivero had added more backstory, it would have clarified some vague recollections from Ana’s dark past in Peru, and added more depth to the plot.
In the end, I hate to say, I didn’t enjoy this read. I won’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone, however I know that it could spark some much needed conversation, so I wouldn’t discourage anyone who wishes to read it from actually reading it, but it just fell so flat for me. In the end, I just didn’t connect emotionally with the story and was left wanting more.