Patricia Engel has published two other books, the short story collection Vida and the novel It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris. Even though I haven’t read either of those books, I felt that I needed to read her new novel, The Veins of the Ocean. Not only because the reviews were intriguing (and very positive) but also because I don’t remember ever reading anything by a Colombian American novelist.
The Veins of the Ocean is the story of Reina Castillo. When we first meet Reina she seems to be living in a sort of limbo. Her whole life revolves around visiting her brother Carlito in prison every weekend. Carlito committed a horrific crime that mirrors the crime that landed their own father in jail when they were very young. It soon becomes clear that Reina feels responsible for her brother’s actions and is, in a way, serving her own sentence along her brother. When Carlito dies unexpectedly, Reina doesn’t know what to do with herself. She decides to leave town as there’s nothing for her in the place where she grew up. She’s estranged from her mother and their community has turned its back on them as a result of her brother’s crime.
Full review here.