The House of Broken Angels (Paperback)
"All we do, mija, is love. Love is the answer. Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death."
In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately called Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies, transforming the weekend into a farewell doubleheader. Among the guests is Big Angel's half brother, known as Little Angel, who must reckon with the truth that although he shares a father with his siblings, he has not, as a half gringo, shared a life.
Across two bittersweet days in their San Diego neighborhood, the revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of Big Angel and his mother, and recounting the many inspiring tales that have passed into family lore, the acts both ordinary and heroic that brought these citizens to a fraught and sublime country and allowed them to flourish in the land they have come to call home.
Teeming with brilliance and humor, authentic at every turn, The House of Broken Angels is Luis Alberto Urrea at his best, and cements his reputation as a storyteller of the first rank.
"Epic . . . Rambunctious . . . Highly entertaining." -- New York Times Book Review"Intimate and touching . . . the stuff of legend." -- San Francisco Chronicle"An immensely charming and moving tale." -- Boston GlobeNational Bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalistA New York Times Notable BookOne of the Best Books of the Year from National Public Radio, American Library Association, San Francisco Chronicle, BookPage, Newsday, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Literary Hub
About the Author
He has won the Lannan Literary Award, an Edgar Award, and a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among many other honors. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, he lives outside of Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
"Epic . . . Rambunctious . . . Highly entertaining . . . Sorrowful and funny . . . Cheerfully profane . . .The quips and jokes come fast through a poignant novel that is very much about time itself . . . A powerful rendering of a Mexican-American family that is also an American family."—Viet Thanh Nguyen, New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"A raucous, moving, and necessary book...Intimate and touching...The stuff of legend...There's deep heart and tenderness in this novel.The House of Broken Angels is, at its most political, a border story...Chillingly accurate, they're heartbreaking, and infuriating."—Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle
"An immensely charming and moving tale...Urrea deftly inhabits many points of view, dreaming up an internal voice for each...It is a testament to his swift and lucid characterizations that one does not want to leave this party...A novel like The House of Broken Angels is a radical act. It is a big, epic storyabout how hard it is to love with all of your heart, and all of your family--regardless of which side of the border they live on."—John Freeman, Boston Globe
"The House of Broken Angels is a big, sprawling, messy, sexy, raucous house party of a book, a pan-generational family saga with an enormous, bounding heart, a poetic delivery, and plenty of swagger...More than once while reading the novel, I thought of James Joyce's 'The Dead,' another kaleidoscopic fable of family life that skillfully mixes perspectives...The House of Broken Angels isa book about celebration that is, itself, a celebration."—Michael Lindgren, Washington Post
"Urrea's gifts as a storyteller are prodigious...The book's spirit is irrepressibly high. Even in its saddest moments, The House of Broken Angels hums with joy...The noveloverflows with the pleasure of family...And all that vulnerability, combined with humor and celebration and Urrea's vivid prose, will crack you open."—Lily Meyer, NPR
"The House of Broken Angels is a big, messy, warmhearted epic, over-flowing with color and character...With bird's eye agility, Urrea moves between borders and generations...His narrative is imbued with the timeless texture of every immigrant's hope's and dreams...Generous to the last breath."—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
"A whirling fiesta of a book...Filled with intelligence and wickedly funny cultural commentary, the story builds to an electrifying finale."—Marion Winik, People
"Humane and often laugh-out-loud hilarious."—O, The Oprah Magazine
"A sprawling yet intimate tale...rich in detail and images...It's the sort of book you might read, as I did, in one long, breathless push."—Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
"Generous and big-hearted...The House of Broken Angels soars on wings of memory and imagination into the 'imperfect and glorious, messy and hilarious' tragedy and comedy of family history."—Diana Postlethwaite, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Urrea spins some wonderful phrases as he leads us through his throng of characters...You couldn't ask for a more vivid sense of place either, whether you're talking physical surroundings or the way people think and speak. There's a telling moment when Little Angel ponders freeway traffic 'rushing past the invisible barrio, unaware of the lives up here, the little houses, all these unknowable stories.' The House of Broken Angels makes them known."—Michael Upchurch, Chicago Tribune
"The House of Broken Angels is a love song to the Mexican-American family."—Time
"A novel about humanity and all its marvelous mess...The House of Broken Angels succeeds in its depiction of the pettiness and love that so peculiarly intertwine in families.In particular, the relationship between Big Angel and Little Angel is loving and fraught, heightened by the sense that they must get it all out in the open with too little time. Urrea has clearly written from the heart...His novel is an intimate tribute to the bonds we don't get to choose, but to which we owe everything."—Grace Parazzoli, Santa Fe New Mexican
sensual novel is remarkable. Every paragraph holds its own; but together they
tell the whole messy story of a family that, at its essence, mirrors your own."
"Luis Alberto Urrea's The House of Broken Angels is a vivid portrait of one Mexican-American family in San Diego and the complexities of immigration and heritage. The patriarch of the De La Cruz family decides to throw a huge birthday party in the last days of his life, but his mother also dies in the days leading up to the event, leading to a bittersweet celebration of both of their lives and their family's legacy."—Jarry Lee, Buzzfeed
"A fascinating look at culture, family, and the roots that ground us to one another; Luis Alberto Urrea's The House of Broken Angels may be set around a 100-year-old's birthday party, but it reaches into every area of modern American life."—PopSugar
"Boisterous . . . Fun . . . Although underscored by tragedy and strife, this novel is a story of hope and love-for all broken angels."—Yvette Benavides, San Antonio Express-News
"The House of Broken Angels will appeal to anybody...A tender, sprawling, funny, violent family saga."—David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal
"Two paragraph is and I was unabashedly in love with Luis Alberto Urrea's masterful and richly textured new novel, The House of Broken Angel, about this family that manages to be both extraordinary and completely ordinary...Few characters are as alive as Big Angel, and few stories have resonated with me as much as this one."
—Ashley Riggleston, The Free Lance-Star
"Luis Alberto Urrea has crafted a story that is teeming with family love, secrets, jealousies, alliances, and surprises that make it burst with life on every page. He uses a large cast of characters to portray the breadth of the de La Cruz clan and also make them universal. Change the names, locations, language, and in-jokes, and they could be Italian, Jewish, Irish, or any other group of immigrants that has struggled to combine elements of their original home with their new one . . . The House of Broken Angels can be a multigenerational, multinational dwelling anywhere. Get a copy for your house."—Dale Singer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Each of the De la Cruzes is in some way a performer who shows extraordinary courage and vulnerability...Big Angel is grateful for his wife, for his family, and for the power of memory, and what an incredible story he tells...The House of Broken Angels is full of life and spirit and joy. At is heart this is a novel about being alive."—Luba Sawczyn, Burlington Times-News
"The House of Broken Angels has everything we demand of a great novel--sweep, ambition, generosity, myth, intimacy, and, above all, humanity. Luis Alberto Urrea just gets better and better."—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Everybody's Fool
"Luis Alberto Urrea is a master storyteller, and he delivers a masterwork with The House of Broken Angels. Stories spin on stories. There are lives intimately depicted and fully realized; losses redeemed by love; a dazzling display of narrative fireworks, each little scene a gem; and larger-than-life characters across two borders who cross all borders and become ours. We enter this house of broken angels, and through the magical power of Urrea's writing, we become healed and whole. And we laugh and tear up and shake our heads in wonder all the way to the ending of a book we don't want to end. Urrea delivers on every page. ¡Dios santo! What a storyteller! Bless his capacious heart!"—Julia Alvarez, author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
"Dizzying...Urrea writes in exhilarating but controlled slashes, wielding a machete that cuts like a scalpel. Every page comes alive with scent, taste, and, perhaps most lovingly, touch...The House of Broken Angels is about a quintessentially American family, a family that came north looking for heaven but found that 'heaven was a blueprint.' But it's also about what it means to look back on a life and, with total honesty, take stock."—Omar El Akkad, Bookpage
written a vital, vibrant book about the immigrant experience that is a messy
celebration of life's common joys and sorrows."
"A family saga that asks what it means to be American . . . The novel is knowing and intimate, funny and tragic at once. The de la Cruzes are a big clan, messy and complex. The members have competing agendas and secrets, but at the same time, all share a commitment to family. 'All we do, mija,' Big Angel tells his daughter, 'is love. Love is the answer. Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death.' It's impossible to read that line (or, for that matter, this novel) without reflecting on the current American moment, in which Mexican American families such as the de la Cruzes are often vilified. But if Urrea's novel is anything, it is an American tale. It is a celebration, although Urrea is no sentimentalist; he knows the territory in which his narrative unfolds. There is tragedy here and danger; these are real people, living in the real world. Still, even when that world intrudes, it only heightens the strength, the resilience, of the family . . . Even in death, Urrea shows, we never lose our connection to one another, which is the point of this deft and moving book."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
storytelling and deep affection for its countless characters."
"Richly rendered and emotionally satisfying...Urrea's immense literary imagination never ceases to work wonders. In The House of Broken Angels, his style of magical realism creates an unforgettable alchemy, transforming the struggles of a multigenerational Latinx family into a moving mythos of kinship...Extraordinary."—Shelf Awareness