The Veins of the Ocean (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Carlito Castillo has a rough start in life, tossed from Rickenbacker Bridge into the waters of Biscayne Bay, by his enraged father when his mother’s infidelity is discovered.  How do you ever get over such a trauma?  It seems he has managed for a while, but Carlito’s eventual destination is a death row cell.  Abandoned by most of his family, only his sister Reina, wracked by guilt, travels to the jail for a weekly visit. Carlito’s death both devastates and frees Reina.  Now she must decide who she will be in the aftermath.  Reina retreats to the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto, a man with his own demons.  Nesto got out of Cuba, without his children.  He yearns to be united with them in Florida, a yearning that may not have an easy answer.  The two eventually take jobs in a dolphin aquarium, where Reina has an unusual connection to the animals. Reina must find, if not absolution, peace, with her guilt over the crime that put her brother on death row.  Nesto also must find redemption as he dreams of bringing his children to a better life in the US.  Engel’s writing has a beautiful lyric cadence, her sensuous descriptions drawing the reader into her story.  The story takes place in exotic locations, Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, and Cartagena.  It is a pleasure to read!

— Deon Stonehouse


Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, A New York Times Editors' Choice and a finalist for the International Latino Book Award

"Engel has an eye for detail. She knows how to drown the reader in a sense of enchantment... She writes exquisite moments."--Roxane Gay, The Nation

Reina Castillo is the alluring young woman whose beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community, throwing a baby off a bridge--a crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. With her brother's death, though devastated and in mourning, Reina is finally released from her prison vigil. Seeking anonymity, she moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto's love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family's troubled history, and in their companionship, begins to find freedom from the burden of guilt she carries for her brother's crime.

Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia, with The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured lives finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.

About the Author

Patricia Engel is the author of Vida, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award and Young Lions Fiction Award, and the acclaimed novel It's Not Love, It's Just Paris, winner of the International Latino Book Award. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, A Public Space, Harvard Review, and Guernica, among other publications and anthologies, and received numerous awards including a 2014 fellowship in literature from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780802124890
ISBN-10: 0802124895
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Pages: 320
Language: English