The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez was the CommunityREAD 2016 book. The Book of Unknown Americans is a novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love—a book that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
Cristina Henríquez is the author of Come Together, Fall Apart, a collection of stories, The World in Half, and most recently The Book of Unknown Americans —a dazzling page-turner about a family’s hopes for their new life in America. The Book of Unknown Americans is one of the New York Times’ Notable Books of 2014 and made it onto many other Best of 2014 Book lists, including The Washington Post, NPR, among others.
In her lectures, Cristina Henríquez, who grew up half-American, half-Panamanian, speaks about identity and addresses common narratives about immigration. A gifted writer with a great talent for creating intimate and authentic character portraits, Henríquez also speaks to aspiring writers about the writer’s creative and technical process.
The hardships and legal battles of immigration are in the headlines every day, yet the nitty-gritty, humor, and heart behind them have rarely been brought to the page. In writing The Book of Unknown Americans Cristina Henríquez was inspired her father’s Panamà-to-U.S. immigration story and other experiences of real people in Delaware, where she grew up. The novel, which has been called, “a flawlessly written book about immigration,” brings to life the varied human stories behind the ongoing debate about immigration through the eyes of characters from all over Latin America.
Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere and she has been a guest on National Public Radio. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches at Northwestern University. For more information on this Speaker, please visit www.prhspeakers.com.
Community READ History
Community READ was started in March 2003 as a way to celebrate the Community Foundation’s ten-year anniversary, bring attention to the fact that illiteracy is an issue in Findlay and Hancock County and help promote the HancockREADS endowment fund. Local residents were asked to read and discuss a book and its related themes with friends and family during March of each year. Over the years, selected adult and children’s books have included:
Previous CommunityREAD Selection
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia (2003)
- The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews and The Traveler’s Gift by Mark Kimball Moulton (2004)
- Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam and Blueberries for the Queen by John and Katherine Patterson (2005)
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson (2006)
- Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde and Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed written by Emily Pearson (2007)
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern (2008)
- Marley & Me, Marley, A Dog Like No Other, and Bad Dog, Marley! all by John Grogan (2009)
- Teach with your Heart by Erin Gruwell, The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco and Don’t Be Silly Mrs. Millie by Judy Cox (2010)
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Best Friends Forever by Beverly Patt, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells (2011)
- Still Alice by Lisa Genova, The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox (2012)
- The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett, The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz and Flower Garden by Even Bunting (2013)
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, and Raul Colon and Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds (2014)
- Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, I Survived: Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis, I'm the Scariest Thing in the Jungle! by David G. Derrick, Jr., Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen (2015)
In December 2011, The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation approached the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library about assuming the administration of CommunityREAD in 2013 with the understanding that the Community Foundation would continue to support CommunityREAD through the grant process. In January 2012, the library Board of Trustees approved the library becoming the program administrator.