By Jo Ann Hernandez
LatinaLista — Author Oscar Casares shares the tale of two brothers in the poignantly touching novel Amigoland. Don Fidencio Rosales and Don Celestino are brothers who have not spoken to each other for many years over an argument they can’t even remember what was about anymore.
Don Fidencio, 91, living in Amigoland, a nursing home, feels stripped of his independence and is resentful that he is forced to cope with the embarrassment of incontinence, insomnia and memory loss.
Don Celestino, ten years younger, is still living life to the fullest and has an affair with Socorro, his young housekeeper. She longs for a relationship and encourages him to reconnect with his brother. They visit Don Fidencio at the nursing home where the two brothers exchange old memories.
Don Fidencio claims his version of their past is true. The brothers finally make a plan to travel to Mexico and find out the truth once and for all. Don Celestino and Socorro break out Don Fidencio from Amigoland after his daughter refused to give him permission to go on the trip.
Socorro struggles with her wishes to be acknowledged by Don Celestino in public and to be introduced to his family. Being male, Don Celestino keeps his fears to himself and refuses her wishes with weak excuses.
The ending is a powerful tribute to how one man faces his weakening body and oncoming death with dignity and grace; how Socorro comes to terms with her independence and how one brother learns to admit his needs.
This book needs to be read by the young so they can learn how growing old is not for wimps. Hilariously truthful and insightfully honest, Oscar Casares shares the indignities of growing old.
The humor in this book is enough for a book review of its own. Scenes of the women talking to Socorro will remind you of your family “straightening you out.”
This story is a novela coming to life. Read this book to understand that true wisdom always has a sense of humor.
Jo Ann HernÃ¡ndez is assistant Bookshelf editor and author of the award-winning “White Bread Competition” and “The Throwaway Piece,” as well as, creator and publisher of BronzeWord Latino Authors web site.