Picks and Pans Review: A Handbook to Luck

updated 05/07/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Cristina Garcia

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

FICTION

Garcia, author of 1992's Dreaming in Cuban, follows three characters in different worlds and the role chance plays in each life. Enrique, son of a Cuban magician, is forever marked by his mother's freak electrocution, which he witnessed at age 6. Resilient Marta—born to poverty in El Salvador—outmaneuvers an abusive stepfather and brutal husband, escaping her war-torn country for El Norte. Leila's privileged upbringing in Tehran is marked by her emotionally bankrupt mother and the constraints her society places on women. Garcia expertly braids each of their stories together, tenderly tracing the passage of these 1960s children into 1980s adults as they begin to discover the often unavoidable gap "between what you planned and what actually happened."
[STARS 3.5]

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