— Authors —
When the de la Cruz Family Danced is my kind of book—characters I fell in love with, prose that made me swoon, dialogue that rang true. Donna Miscolta did something wonderful here: she created a world that I didn’t want to leave.
In her deft debut novel, Donna Miscolta presents a clarifying vision of post-immigration America. Longings acted upon or stifled, secrets disclosed or withheld, connections made or frayed—Miscolta shows that the extended de la Cruz family is a mirror of the things that bind us and keep us apart. When the de la Cruz Family Danced may be one particular family’s aching story, but the novel also has a largeness that encompasses the evolving formal history of the novel, the history of family life in America, and the continuing story of how immigrants carry the burdens of the past into the strange present. Miscolta’s novel is intricate, tender, and elegantly written—a necessary novel for our times.
When the de la Cruz Family Danced introduces a wise, warm, funny and big-hearted writer to the world. This book is a delight.
A smoothly written debut that sways between the Philippines and the U.S., between the present and past, and between the secrets and hard truths of its compelling characters. This is a complex story of immigration and loss that packs an emotional punch.
This extraordinary novel illustrates a family’s long journey toward making peace—with the world, with the family, and with individual selves. Miscolta is a pitch-perfect prose stylist and a passionately empathetic creator: she savors sentence-making and attends to the all-important nuanced moments between people. This chronicle of a family is beautifully observed and heart-rendingly told, and these characters will linger long after you’ve closed the book. I feel blessed to have met this family and to have made the journey with them.
When reading When the de la Cruz Family Danced, you feel like the story is already familiar—not that it’s been told before, but that its words have the flow of memory, of having been there standing in the de la Cruz kitchen or sitting at the dinner table where there is the nostalgic talk of family meals, of family tragedies, of the heartfelt things left unsaid that are later recalled or written down in letter sent through the mail or watched in a home movie. We, as readers, aren’t a part of this life or this history and yet by reading, we see ourselves just standing at the edge of the frame in a de la Cruz family portrait. We’re family.
— Reviewers —
Donna Miscolta’s long-awaited debut is worth whatever time it took—a large-spirited, engaging story of family and family mysteries. She delves wonderfully in how we can come to terms with what we know (and who) in our families, in life.
Like Clarrisa Dalloway’s day, this novel is not about action, but about the measured, interior, often muddy unfolding of daily life, where everything that matters happens. The paternity plot sets things in motion, and Winston’s presence challenges old habits and evasions, and offers the de la Cruzes a new lens through which to look at themselves and each other. But the novel turns on Miscolta’s careful attention to Johnny and Tessie de la Cruz, and their yearnings.
Donna Miscolta has written an amazing novel. It is rich with feeling and thought. I absolutely fell in love with Johnny. Although he was not an easy character to get to know, the process of getting to know him felt real and never like a chore. More like the process we all go through in getting to know a new friend. In fact, all of the characters were very real and acted true to their personalities throughout the story. This was one of those novels I ended up so totally immersed in, that when I had to put the book down, it would take me a minute to reorient myself to reality. I love it when that happens! I laughed out loud, I cried, I fell in love with this family and their friends. Truly a masterpiece.
When the De La Cruz Family Danced is a breathtaking portrayal of longing and loss as one family learns acceptance with each other and with the past. In thoughtful prose, debut novelist Donna Miscolta interlocks the smallest and most delicate stories and phrases with the upmost affection; she is attentive to dialogue as if composing a waltz, “I came to take you dancing, Tessie.” A seductive rhythm pulling the reader onto every page.
Seeing a book on at the bookstore with my friend’s name on the spine gives me a vicarious thrill- but I open the book with a feeling of trepidation. What if I don’t like it? I cannot, like Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries, look my friend in the eye and flatly state, “Frankly, it was bad. You should stick to (insert day job here).” Perhaps that is why it took me six months after the release of When the de la Cruz Family Danced to get around to reading my coworker Donna Miscolta’s first published novel. I needn’t have worried.
I just finished reading When the de la Cruz Family Danced by Donna Miscolta, and what a read! It’s pitch perfect from beginning to end. Almost every novel falters at some point, but not this one. A story of family dynamics and secrets set against post-immigrant life in a quietly decaying suburb in southern California, Miscolta has written something unique and also uncanningly familiar.
I loved When the de la Cruz Family Danced. There, I’ve erased any semblance of objectivity. Donna Miscolta’s first novel is set in San Diego, but it could be Seattle — or Chicago (where I grew up). It’s a page turner with a strong story line that grows and surprises. I know Johnny de la Cruz’s family or folks an awful lot like them: unpredictable, many-layered and as intriguing in their own way as anybody in our celebrity cult culture.
Poignant, intelligent. The characters yearn for connection; the novel left me aching for them.
The writing of this little gem is so skillful and poetic it was difficult to put down. Ms Miscolta spins a web of personality into every one of her characters so that they live and breathe on the page, with little vignettes and scenes coming alive before the reader’s eyes as though they were standing on the sidelines observing from behind a curtain. Every word is consciously chosen and every scene meticulously laid out, and all flows together beautifully.
When the de la Cruz Family Danced is a highly recommended waltz of well-crafted prose and endearing characters.
When the de la Cruz Family Danced is hard to put down once you pick it up: the voice, the images, the pacing. It’s a multiple point-of-view book with a family secret and complex characters that charts the post-immigration life of Johnny de la Cruz, with glimpses into the lives of Johnny’s wife and daughters and a possible son named Winston. An impressive debut!
Very good novels operate in a sphere beyond the characters, embedding their story within a time, a place, a culture, and Miscolta honors this tradition. She explores a particular immigrant experience, and the estrangement and rootlessness it can cause. Through this experience, she also comments on the isolation and unfulfilled promise of planned suburban communities in contrast to their messier, evolving urban counterparts. Throughout, there is a suggestion that, in our urge to find something better, we abandon the very things that could make us the most happy, despite our dissatisfaction with them. Miscolta has written a beautifully composed novel of a family in disarray, finally trying to dance its halting way back together.
Though this type of narrative turn can prove unwieldy, Miscolta’s delicate prose and mindful style inject a controlled direction that sheds light on each of the characters’ peculiarities. They do not simply become foils for or adjuncts to the protagonist. I can only think of them as capillaries—interconnected, each providing others life, yet at the same time needing to flow somewhere else, to be connect to someone else.
— Readers —
Just finished reading When the de la Cruz Family Danced, and what a read! It’s pitch perfect from beginning to end. Amazing. Almost every novel falters at some point, but not this one. As always I loved your language and its gentle humor which somehow manages to be tender as well as funny. And such a great cast of characters, and so completely human and believable. I cared about all of them, foibles and all. Really, i can’t find enough good things to say about this book, including that it’s a real page-turner. I had a hard time putting it down, meaning I’ve been spending longer than usual in the bathroom, seeing as that’s one of my regular reading spots…So WOW! Among other things, this book is literally begging to be made into a movie. I’m delighted…and just a little bit envious.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed When the de la Cruz Family Danced. It was so good! It was a contest between starvation or finishing the last few pages, so I stopped to eat dinner, then finished. Excellent ending!
Just finished your beguiling and beautiful debut, Donna, on a beach in the Northumberland Straits. I kept wanting to turn the pages, but was sorry for this enveloping story to end. The de la Cruz family is unique and quirky, and yet we can all connect with their mishegas (that’s Yiddish, for craziness). Funny, poignant. Hope you are writing into your next….
Donna, your book is fabulous! Stayed up late finishing it. I fell in love with all your characters. And what a great ending! Congratulations! The de la Cruz family is going to be dancing for a long time…
Thank you for writing such an accessible and readable novel that I think not only captures the differences between Filipinos, but captures some of the universal layers of immigration! I really almost couldn’t put it down. My husband, Greg, who’s an Iowa Writers Workshop alum, agreed.
I finished reading your book and loved it! I cried at the end. Have passed it on to Celeste to read. She’s excited!
Loved the ending. Sat at the bus stop before walking home so I could finish it. I feel I know the de la Cruz family better than my own.
Once in a while, you can sink into a new book and just know what’s coming will be wonderful. That’s When the de la Cruz Family Danced by my former co-worker and friend Donna Miscolta. First page and you relax knowing you are in for a treat. Find a copy and enjoy a really good read.