Rev. of Natalia Sylvester’s Everyone Knows You Go Home

I just purchased this book last weekend so the timing on this review by Elliot Turner is perfect!—everyone-knows-you-go-home–latino-book-review.html


​The Rio Grande Valley and two harrowing tales of immigrants’ sacrifice serve as the key ingredients in Natalia Sylvester’s compelling sophomore novel.

On the day of their wedding, Martin and Isabel are visited by the spirit of Martin’s long disappeared father. He then visits Isabel annually and slowly reveals secrets from Martin’s past—things Martin has hidden and things hidden from Martin. Still, this tale is neither speculative fiction nor magical realism—it’s a moving domestic novel.

The plot speeds along quickly thanks to short chapters which alternate between the present, Martin and Isabel’s nascent marriage, and the past, the arrival of Martin’s family to the US. Unexpectedly, a young relative of Martin shows up, is undocumented, and asks them for help. They give him lodging, enroll him in high school, and over time they form a family unit. Things take a dark turn, though, when Martin’s mother gets gravely ill. Also, the constant concern and worry about Martin’s relative, who could be stopped and deported seemingly on a whim, also weighs on them. 

Sylvester immigrated to the US from Peru, but has done a great job writing about the Mexican and Mexican-American population on both sides of the border. No character feels pigeonholed by stereotypes. Also, the book’s detailed accounts of undocumented immigration, such as a stash house that feels more like a prison, unflinchingly portray the reality of dangers faced by immigrants in a way that humanizes suffering.

Everyone Knows You Go Home is a gripping tale of family love, sacrifice and secrets revealed. 

Natalia Sylvester is the author of Chasing the Sun, her fiction debut. She is a freelance writer who lives in Austin, Texas. 

Everyone Knows You Go Home is published by Little A. Click here to purchase.


Reviewed by
Elliott Turner​
Elliott Turner is the author of The Night of the Virgin, one of “the top ten fiction books of 2017” according to His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Atticus Reviews, VICE, Fusion, SplitLip Mag, and Transect Magazine.

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