To Summarize, 'Infinite Country' Can Be Frustrating

Patricia Engels' novel about the experiences of a Colombian family migrating to the U.S. stands out for its sharp writing — but frustrates in equal measure because of its reliance on summary.
Source: Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster

In the first chapter of Patricia Engel's third novel, , a 15-year-old girl named Talia breaks free from a nun-managed reform school in the Colombian mountains. In only a few pages, Engel makes abundantly clear that Talia is more than equipped to escape the nuns and make her way back to Bogotá, where she has a plane to catch. Talia was born in the United States, but raised by her father and grandmother in Colombia. Her mother and siblings, Karina andis less concerned with Talia's quest to reunite with her family, though, than with the choices and circumstances — and cruel immigration policies — that led to their initial separation. In swift chapters that bounce between characters and chronologies, Engel moves from Talia's parents' courtship to their emigration to their forced split, and traces their fight afterwards to survive as individuals, and as a family.

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