Once I inside the doors of Big Angel’s house, I didn’t want to leave. I knew exactly how this story would end as I was told that in the beginning pages of this book, yet I grew fond of each individual in Big Angel’s life and my admiration for him soared. I laughed, cried and flipped my way through these pages until I realized that I was holding just a few unread pages in my right hand. This was it, I had to finish what I had started. I eased my pace for I would only be able to hold onto these dear individuals for just a while longer. My new family knew that change was inevitable but to what decree, was undetermined.
Big Angel had been planning his last birthday party but now mother/grandma would need to be laid to rest before the celebration. Big Angel knew that this would be his last hurrah, as he gathers his clan together in the family’s home. As the patriarch, he was actually much more than that to his family and friends throughout the years. This story of about hope, survival, family, about making a difference, and about being yourself was fantastic and I’m so glad bookclub choose it.
Big Angel, the family’s leader, feels that he has now been reduced to a child. This man, that his siblings used to see as a father figure, the punctual, computer-genius he once was, is now using a wheelchair and needs help with most of his daily functions. As a Mexican immigrant, Big Angel and his family have had some interesting and amazing adventures throughout their lifetime. As family and friends gather to celebrate Big Angel birthday, their adventures are far from over. For on this one day, some see Big Angel for who he really is.
As I listened to all the different individuals in the story, I enjoyed their interactions and how they all fed into the maze of each other’s lives. As the author blended in all the different time periods, I liked seeing and hearing exactly what had transpired during this time and their account of the event. Big Angel is a proud man yet he’s also humble. As he writes in his mole-skinned notebooks, it’s the honesty and the thought that he puts into each entry that makes these books so special. He’s a man who has accepted what life has given to him and now, he’s appreciating it all. Speaking from the heart, his comments led me to cry and to laugh, sometimes all within a few pages of each other. There are tons of great moments in this book, moments that make me smile just thinking about them. After borrowing this book from the library to read, I realize that I need this book in my collection so I can reread it in the near future. It is definitely a keeper and one that I highly recommend. 5+ stars
“At the end of the day, all he really knew was that he was a Mexican father. And Mexican fathers made speeches. He wanted to leave her with a blessing, with beautiful words to sum up a life, but there were no words sufficient to this day. But still, he tried. “All we do, mija,” he said, “is love. Love is the answer. Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death.”