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The Veins of the Ocean Paperback – 2 Feb 2017

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Man Booker International Prize 2017
A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Main edition (2 Feb. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611855365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611855364
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,014,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Engel has an eye for detail. She knows how to drown the reader in a sense of enchantment... She writes exquisite moments. -- Roxane Gay * The Nation * This, mercifully, is a book as concerned with transforming the human condition as it is with the unflinching examination of its wounds... In short, it is our world, mirrored back to us, revealed anew. * San Francisco Chronicle * Engel's voice is lyrical, in a no nonsense sort of way. Her descriptive powers have improved greatly; she has an all-seeing eye that misses nothing of importance for the reader. * Miami Herald * Beautifully wrought and vibrant, The Veins of the Ocean is a compelling meditation on guilt, nature, redemption, and the immigrant experience. * Buzzfeed * Patricia Engel's sumptuous second novel...is no wild revenge tragedy; instead, it examines a tragedy's aftermath... Engel writes with a raw realism that elevates her characters' mundane existence - their failures and failings, hopes and dreams, pleasures and pains - to something majestic. * New York Times * The Veins of the Ocean is an indelible novel of loss, grief, and redemption. Patricia Engel has created a world that is at once sensuous and dangerous, authentic and poetic, harrowing and hopeful. -- Laila Lalami In a novel that is vitally relevant today when the word refugee has such loaded connotations, Engel delivers a pulsating . . . and deeply introspective take on how family, love, and guilt can both 'chain us together' and set us free. * Booklist * Engel is able to find a lightness in a disturbing story to carry the reader through the novel... Engel has crafted a detailed, rich world of vivid atmosphere and imagery . . . A dark comedy with unexpected heart. * Kirkus *

Book Description

The extraordinary new novel from award-winning author, Patricia Engel, The Veins of the Ocean is a heartrending story of one woman's devotion to her death row-convicted brother and her journey away from a painful past

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We follow the story of Reina Castillo, who has stood by her brother following his imprisonment and subsequent death sentence for throwing a baby off a bridge into the ocean. Mourning her brother’s death, Reina moves to Florida Keys, where she falls in love with Nesto, a Cuban immigrant who is desperately trying to reunite his family.

Veins of the Ocean deals with issues of death, loss, immigration, poverty, guilt and love. The plot itself seemed quite slow to me, but the author is very skilled in evoking a real sense of detail in her writing which kept me interested. The dark subject matter is countered by the beautiful descriptive passages and the sense of joy and freedom that Reina finds from swimming with Nesto. There was a lot of dialogue about traditions and religious beliefs, but I found that the use of Spanish phrases throughout was a bit distracting.

Laura

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but uneven 4 Feb. 2017
By Lynne Spreen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book had significant ups and downs. The good: unbelievably beautiful description, both of physical things (ocean, building, sky, weather, animals, people) and intangible things (the attitude of a prison guard; the feelings a dolphin might have; the way the air or ocean might prompt a memory so rich it hurts.) Lots of fascinating information about life as an immigrant, life before immigration, life in Cuba, life in Cartagena, life in Florida.

The not-so-good: the flashbacks, told in past tense, are too numerous and lengthy. They both explain and take you out of the story. In fact, I would say there are two stories going on at the same time. Reina's present life, which is told in first person, present tense; and the flashbacks, which are, I think, meant to explain why she is who she is and what she needs to do to change. However, it's just too much.

Then on top of that, there's a third narrative going on: myth. There is a myth to parallel every other scene. They're good myths, in some cases, like after Nesto and Reina take action (don't want to spoil it), but it's distracting. I found the pace a little too slow, and have to admit I began skimming toward the last third of the book. I get the feeling Ms. Engel put a lot of effort into this book, and it's beautiful, but it might have benefited from some trimming.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Novel 11 Nov. 2016
By Bogopea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was difficult to establish a relationship with the characters for a while. But I thought the author was lyrical and am glad I continued reading. I grew to love the two main characters and how two divergent souls came together. It's about all the things important to our lives: love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness. To all this was added the plight of Cuban immigrants to Florida and the anguishing choices they make to leave everything behind for what they hope is a better life for their family, even if that family is left behind at first.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ENGEL delivers another WINNER! 8 Aug. 2016
By Ana Maria Lozano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Engel does a masterful job at creating an intricate yet realistic story plot and developing well thought out characters. The main protagonist, Reina, is vivid, alive, complex, compassionate, taking the reader through each of these sentiments in a well-researched and heart wrenching story, signature of the author's writing style. The vivid descriptions of Miami, Havana, Cartagena, the Florida Keys and the detail behind the scenes of Carlito's prison visits, the Dolphinarium and the Yoruba religion, among others, are evident of the extensive research and passion explored by the author during the creation of this wonderful literary work. Well done!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Talent 4 Jan. 2017
By Jamie Walzel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a great new voice Patricia Engel is becoming. I read this along with Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz's Drown and this book was clearly the better read. Veins was one of my favorite books of 2016. Engel's version of hard truths for an immigrant family has much more character arc in the protagonist's journey, and the story develops better than Diaz's. The writing was simple and stellar. The protagonist narrates the story in first person in a matter-of-fact way that doesn't scream "call me a victim." The protagonist doesn't want pitty, she wants to take you on her journey. Great job, Ms. Engel! I'm buying Vida next.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book....enjoyed every page! 27 Jan. 2017
By Michelle Haberfeld - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book, it's so realistic about the life of immigrants. People that leave physically their countries but emotionally are still attached to it, attached to the past, to the culture and to their roots. It's also about love, the different types of love and the feelings that it might awake, for the good or for the bad. Highly recommend it.
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