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The Barbarian Nurseries

About the Book

The Barbarian Nurseries

Just as Tom Wolfe captured the excesses of a generation in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Pulitzer Prize winner Héctor Tobar has crafted a novel that defines America at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Beginning in a tony Orange County suburb, this is a portrait of the peculiar intersection between newly rich progressives, now suffering from 401(k) jitters, and the undocumented immigrant servants who keep them from having to face reality.

In the Torres-Thompson household, only the maid, Araceli, has survived the recent downsizing. The gardener and nanny have been let go, leaving Araceli to maintain order in an increasingly unruly family. Limited by the language barrier, she silently marvels at the abundance of clothes and toys and other luxuries crammed into her employers' home, though she sees no beauty in their gated community, especially when compared to the historical riches of Mexico City.

Fed up with economizing, Maureen Thompson hires a high-end landscaping firm to renovate the poolside garden. She doesn't tell her husband, Scott, and the ensuing credit-card revelation pushes them to the brink. One morning, after Scott and Maureen have had an especially volatile fight, Araceli wakes to find them gone. As the hours tick by, fading into night, she tries to maintain a routine for their two boys, who have been left behind. She is anxious for the boys' parents to return, but they don't. When the list of emergency contacts proves useless, Araceli embarks on an odyssey to find Scott's Mexican father, taking the boys with her by bus and train as they travel through the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of Señor Torres. When the media find out what she's done, her actions spark a firestorm; instead of being seen as a hero, she is labeled a kidnapper, while Children's Services takes aim at Scott and Maureen.

Captivating and provocative, The Barbarian Nurseries holds a mirror up to the many faces of contemporary California. We hope this guide will enrich your experience of Héctor Tobar's uproarious examination of the new American Dream.

The Barbarian Nurseries
by Héctor Tobar

  • Publication Date: September 4, 2012
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Picador
  • ISBN-10: 1250013798
  • ISBN-13: 9781250013798