American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
- Publisher: Carina Press; Original edition (March 4, 2019)
- Publication Date: March 4, 2019
- Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
- Language: English
Multicultural, Own Voices, M/M Romance, Latinx Lead
When I first saw the marketing push for American Dreamer, I was ecstatic. M/M Romance? Check. Interracial romance where the other half is a sexy librarian? Check.
Wait, Afro-Latino from the Dominican Republic? Are you kidding me? This is what I LIVE FOR! Throw all the check boxes away.
The level of personal anticipation that I experienced for the March 4th release of Adriana Herrera’s debut novel was nothing short of ridiculous. I haven’t waited for a book in this way since, well, forever.
Nesto is wonderful. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, you understand his priorities right from page one. He’s moving to Ithaca from NYC to launch his food truck, OuNYe Afro-Caribbean Food, with the help of his family and life-long friends (all of whom get their own novel). He has one goal – to become successful within six months or go home. He enjoys the support of his people and possesses the willingness to put in the sweat and blood to make success happen. But Nesto’s x-ray focus wavers when Jude, an adorable librarian, arrives at his food truck to buy his scrumptious food.
The attraction between the two men is palpable. Nesto and Jude’s respective culture and sexuality are presented as a fact of life, something the author reinforces by making sure that the novel is populated by diverse characters as a matter of course, including several of Jude’s gay friend, and Carmen, his Dominican co-worker and best friend. Jude speaks Spanish and has lived in Central American, which lifts the onus on Nesto being solely responsible for teaching Jude the ins and outs of his culture.
Every aspect of this novel is respectful of the full humanity of each character. There is no stereotyping, no othering of anyone. The landscape of the novel is a reflection of a diverse world. The challenges Nesto and Jude confront are rooted in aspects of the character’s personality and the way they feel about intimate relationships. Nesto and Jude’s journey takes center stage, and it is such a refreshing take for a novel featuring an interracial couple.
As a daughter of Puerto Rican parents who relocated to the US with the same dreams as Nesto and his mother, I can identify with Nesto’s ambition and his mother’s pride as well as the pitfalls of being a brown person in a white world. As one who was also brought up in a fundamentalist faith that grew increasingly inconsistent with the way I viewed the world, I can also identify with the pain Jude experienced of not feeling fully accepted by those whose job it was to love him unconditionally. Herrera captures so many dynamics in this novel, which serves as equal parts romance, equal parts commentary on what it means to function, find love, and eventually flourish in a world that is not always willing to accommodate your existence.
Oh, and the food descriptions are divine! That absolutely has to be said.
This debut novel recieves an enthusiastic 5/5 stars.