Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.
Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family in the north.
How this family came to occupy two different countries, two different worlds, comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro’s deportation and the family’s splintering—the costs they’ve all been living with ever since.
Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, gives voice to all five family members as they navigate the particulars of their respective circumstances. And all the while, the metronome ticks: Will Talia make it to Bogotá in time? And if she does, can she bring herself to trade the solid facts of her father and life in Colombia for the distant vision of her mother and siblings in America?
Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret, and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.
Infinite Country is an impassioned and powerful story about a family split by borders and their individual attempts to find belonging.
Engel portrays the story of survivial of being undocumented in the U.S. but also the burden on immediate family members who are documented when others are not. She does so with compassion and insight. It is beautifully told from multiple prospectives and well-paced. The characters feel like real people.
Infinite Country is an important book that will make your heart hurt. My only critique is that it did not have quite enough story for me. I generally am not keen on books that are only family drama and focus on relationships. I like a lot of plot along with character development. But that is totally a personal preference. That being said, I know so many people will love this book with their whole heart. It deserves every bit of praise that will hopefully come its way.
Overall, I really enjoyed Infinite Country and think this story is crucial to fully understanding the immigrant story and struggle. I encourage everyone to read it.
March 2, 2021
2021 New American Voices Award
2022 Andrew Carnegie Award Longlist
Note: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher, Avid Reader Press. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.