We are already closer to 2022 then I’m comfortable with and this year has brought us vaccinations (thank you scientists!) and some really great reads. One of my favorite books that I read during the first half of 2021 was Infinite Country by Patricia Engel. Infinite Country came out in March and it graced our Instagram feeds with its beautiful cover.
About Infinite Country
Infinite Country is the fourth book by Colombian American author, Patricia Engel. Infinite Country tells the story of a family separated by borders and and other obstacles such as a youth correctional facility. Elena and Mauro are two people who found love in each other in Colombia and as they grow together, find a desire to travel to the United States in order to escape economical disparity. After leaving their country together, Elena and Mauro immigrate to the United States with their documents that grant them the freedoms they wished to find, however, after many years and a growing family, Elena and Mauro are facing deportation with the expiration of their visa. Infinite Country illustrates the very reality that many families in the United States face each and every day, and how family can try to be separated, but will never be broken by distance.
Prior to reading Infinite Country it should be known that there are content warnings for sexual assault, deportation, xenophobia, and alcoholism, so be sure to prioritize your mental health when reading.
As someone who reads to escape and also to learn, Infinite Country gave me both opportunities because Patricia Engel weaves traditional Colombian legends and Andean myths throughout this beautiful and impactful novel. When I first began reading this book, I thought that I knew what I was getting myself into. The book jacket says it’s a story of a family separated by country but also a book about Talia, who has been incarcerated and is trying to escape. However, I was surprised with every turn of the page just how much this book exceeded all expectations within just under 200 pages.
What I loved about Infinite Country is how Patricia Engel was able to intertwine each individual member of the family’s stories together while also bringing in the history of their lives in Colombia to show just how imperative each decision the characters make is. When reading, you see a great deal of Elena, Mauro, and Talia’s reality as the three main characters, however, Patricia Engel unites the visions of the other family members through the decisions that are made.
While heartbreaking to read of deportation and the separation of the family, this book is so powerful and recognizes that the human experience is so different than anything you can ever imagine. As a white woman I have a lot of privilege to be able to turn a blind eye to deportation and the fear of separation from my family. However, I read this book with such high emotion because reading about this family made it feel even more real in addition to what I see in the media. In addition to deportation and the separation of family by man made borders, the family presented in this novel encounters even more obstacles which testifies to the nature of being an immigrant in the United States.
While my recommendation will never do this gorgeous book enough justice, I feel that sharing two of my favorite quotes from Patricia Engel’s poignant novel will convince you of the need to read and support her work.
“He wanted to convey to his daughter the price of leaving, though he had difficulty finding the words. What he wanted to say was that something is always lost; even when we are the ones migrating, we end up being occupied.”
“And maybe there is no nation or citizenry; they’re just territories mapped in place of family, in place of love, the infinite country.”
Please pick up this wonderful book and use it as a call to action to help support the people and families who Patricia Engel was writing about in this book.
More like Infinite Country
For fans of Memoir: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
For fans of Essay Collections: The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
For fans of Historical Fiction: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
For young readers: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan or Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai
For Picture Book readers: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales