Latin America

Book Review: Infinite Country

Book Review: Infinite Country

Posted: February 20, 2021


Inifinite Country


Patricia Engel


March 02, 2021



Infinite Country follows the lives of an immigrant family split between Columbia and the United States. It begins in present-day times with the youngest child, Talia, whose goal is to escape a correctional facility and make it to Bogata in time for a flight to the United States. Her mother Elena and two older siblings wait for her there, a reunion 15 years in the making. In traveling to the United States though, she leaves behind her father, Mauro, who raised her jointly with her grandmother in Bogata.

As Talia makes her journey, we are filled in on the history of the family before they became split up. We see how immigration laws can pull a family apart, and what situations might lead a mother to send her infant daughter away to grow up in a separate country. As a reader I cared about the characters, and wanted them to succeed. The issue was that I was unsure about what I should be rooting for. They are torn over what they want as far as their permanent home and future goals go. You have this vague feeling that everything will be better if they’re able to piece their family back together, but it can seem very hopeless at times. The author succeeds in making you feel the same uncertainty they do, and it’s hard to predict how things will end up, or even how you want them to end up.

condor flying through valley
"Mauro whispered then that a condor, which could live as long as a human, was faithful to one partner for life. Together they nested on impenetrable cliffs, sharing the duties of incubation, making a home for their family only they were able to reach"

Elena and Mauro originally fled Colombia to raise their children away from violence and civil war. But even in a country that is supposed to be the “promised land”, the American dream is shown to fall flat for the ones who live here. The book touches on issues such as school shootings, teen suicide rates, and racism. Elena is questioned on why she had so many kids when she cannot “properly provide for them”, but she questions why families who have everything are still so unhappy. The book provides valuable insight into cultural differences, as well as an outside perspective on current issues American society is facing.

The book is written in English, but does have Spanish phrases and cultural references peppered throughout. The Columbian fables woven into the main story add beautifully to the overall themes, especially as you see how they parallel the main characters’ lives. One thing that I think would have added to the reading experience though is if there had been footnotes for the Spanish phrases, as some words could have multiple meanings. I know, I know- pretty ironic for someone reading a Columbian immigrant story to be complaining about a language barrier. It’s just something that did affect the reading experience of the book for me, and I would have liked to feel as though I completely understood what the author was trying to convey.

United States immigration rally signs
Controversy over immigration reform, especially as they relate to the 2016 election results and onward, is discussed at length.

The narration was somewhat inconsistent. The chapters from Talia’s point of view took place in present-day times and had a sense of urgency, and I was pulled into her tale immediately. By contrast, the passive tone the author takes in retelling Mauro and Elena’s story made me feel disconnected from them at times. Their sections were largely descriptive narrative with minimal dialogue, and it started to feel a little like reading a history book instead of a moving story. Later on in the book when we get to the older siblings’ sections there is a jarring switch from third-person to first-person narrative. It was confusing where it didn’t have to be, and I feel as though the individual family members’ histories could have been interwoven more smoothly than they were.

Overall I believe the book succeeds in what it sets out to do. We have a detailed, realistic, and complete story of an immigrant family, written by an author who herself is a dual-citizen and daughter of Colombian immigrants. The characters are well-developed and I was able to identify with and understand their struggles. The last few chapters left me tearing through the pages with a lump in my throat as the family’s story came to its conclusion. Infinite Country packs an emotional punch, and while it did have minor issues, if you have yet to read into the experiences of undocumented immigrants this book is a wonderful place to start.





Entertainment Value




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