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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review and ARC Giveaway: House Divided by Raul Ramos y Sanchez

 I highly recommend this thought provoking, action packed read.
House Divided (America Libre Trilogy) by Raul Ramos y Sanchez
    House Divided (America Libre Trilogy)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Original edition (January 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446507768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446507769
     Genre: ?  Political Thriller  ?
     My Rating:  4.75
Time: the not-too-distant future
In a Los Angeles barrio torn by years of ethnic war, decorated U.S. Army veteran Manolo Suarez is now a rebel leader struggling to sustain a faltering insurgency—and keep his family together and alive. His deeply-religious wife opposes the fighting. His teenage son has joined an extremist group bent on attacking innocent civilians. Now Mano must battle both a U.S. government dominated by demagogues and the terrorists in his own ranks—without betraying his son or losing his wife.
Review: This is a tense action drama. I did not realize until the end that it is the middle book of a trilogy so you might want to start with the first book, America Libre.

Somehow in the first book the Hispanic people of the United States rebelled or raised enough of a threat that they have been separated into camps and communities. Legislation has been passed which prohibits their freedoms and rights.  There is some explanation of the problem but it wasn't completely clear to me. This brings to mind the internment of the Japanese in California during World War II.  Only this battle is all within the US.

The title could refer to two divisions. One is the split of the country as in the times of the Civil War with former friends and family against each other.  The other division is in the family that is the main focus of the story as the son chooses a different side from his father.

The rebel leader in the Los Angeles region is a former US Army Veteran, Manolo Suarez.  He understands battle strategies, the need for supplies and a chain of command.  His initial attacks were targets of supplies with minimal injury to innocent people.  Now he has his followers in a holding pattern waiting for more supplies.  Mano reports to Ramon who is the head of the Hispanic Republic of North America (HRNA) who is in Geneva attempting to get voting rights in the United Nations. Ramon’s co-leader is Octavio who doesn’t have the patience of Ramon and Manolo.  Bit by bit Octavio is splitting off to lead a terrorist group, the Latino Liberation Front to make any attacks they can including killing and kidnapping innocents.  In the LA barrio the LLF is headed by Angel who is breaking away from Mano’s leadership because he wants to fight now.  Mano’s teenage son, Pedro gets caught up in the fervor, rebelling against his parents and joining the militant Angel.

As the terrorists push the temper buttons of the authorities, there is corruption in the government ranks and manipulation of the facts for political purposes.  The violence creates a vicious cycle as tempers escalate and hatred of the public is further incited. Meanwhile, on a smaller but more intimate and just as important scope,  the family is torn by their differing positions.

The author does a wonderful job of making the characters real so that you care about what happens to them.  There is apparently a revenge factor that flows from the first book although it is not clearly explained here. There is nonstop action and intrigue that moves this along quickly.

This story makes you think of the prejudices that lump all people of a race in the same category as those who are true terrorists.  It is disturbing to think this scenario could happen and I think that is why I am not sure my emotions are keen to read the first book although I definitely want to read the third book to find out how the conflict is resolved. If you enjoy a full action drama that raises some thought provoking political questions you will want to read this book and probably the full series.
Thank you to Grand Central Publishing division of Hachette for this book to read and review.
ADDED COMMENTS 3/8:  I wrote my review while my brain was still befuddled with the cold. Now that my head is a little clearer I wanted to add a couple of comments without going back to rewrite the review...even if it could use it.  The book reminded me a bit of the book White Lotus by John Hersey. I haven't read that since high school/college days and need to find a copy and read it again.  That story is an alternate history story where an American girl is sold into slavery in China after they won the "great war." The story follows her escape to a white community that is under the oppression of the ruling oriental class.
It gives us a better perspective of people if we see the world through other's eyes once in a while.

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* This contest is open to US and Canada only. (So sorry this can't be international. The book is available at Book Depository though.)
* No P.O. Boxes Please - for shipping reasons.
* This contest will close 10:00 PM (Central) on March 25, 2011.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.

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