+ ++ The story of one small town's change to embrace its new Latino residents | Latina Lista

The story of one small town’s change to embrace its new Latino residents

The story of one small town’s change to embrace its new Latino residents

By Sarah Dahlen

Picture a city in the United States with a thriving, vibrant Latino community. Is Allentown, Pennsylvania what comes to mind?

If not, it may be time to read Edgar Sandoval's book, The New Face of Small-Town America: Snapshots of Latino Life in Allentown, Pennsylvania.


As is clear from the title, this collection of short essays documents more than the lives of Latinos in one small city, but rather captures the spirit of a more widespread demographic trend: increasing numbers of Latinos living in parts of the country where they have not historically resided.

Many of these new Latino residents have relocated to Allentown and the surrounding area from Puerto Rico, others from New York, and they have not always been welcomed to their new home with open arms.

Several of the essays in this volume describe cultural misunderstandings and outright hostility. In fact, Sandoval was hired by a local newspaper to report on and reach out to the Latino community, who felt that they were misrepresented by negative media coverage; his resulting articles compose this volume.

Despite tensions, the book paints an overall picture of a community that has come a long way in accommodating, accepting, and even embracing its new Latino neighbors, who constitute a quarter of its population.

Business owners, including those who are themselves immigrants from Asian countries, have sought out the Latino market, recognizing its purchasing power. Spanish-speakers in Allentown can watch the news, listen to the radio, read library books, and get health care services in their native language.

A quick and enjoyable read, this book makes significant strides toward its stated intent of promoting understanding of universal human experiences and, in particular, the desires that drive relocation: wanting to belong, prosper, and provide a good life for one's children.

Sarah Dahlen is an university librarian and part of the Review 'n Receive book review program.

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


More in Books


Beek, a social media start-up, for lovers of books in Spanish

Latina ListaOctober 22, 2015
Guillermo Nunez Noriega book

Book Review: Exposing the complex concept of masculine identity in Mexico’s Sonoran mountain region

Latina ListaJuly 16, 2015

Telling the stories of Latino community advocates

Latina ListaMay 4, 2015

Book Review: First-of-its-kind anthology delves into Latina spirituality

Latina ListaApril 14, 2015

Review: Author explains why Latinos missing out on citizenship empowerment

Latina ListaMarch 9, 2015

Looks like children’s book publishers need longer time-out to improve diversity in titles

Latina ListaFebruary 26, 2015

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight: Meg Medina

Latina ListaJanuary 23, 2015

The Educational Revolution of Mexican American Studies in Arizona

Latina ListaJanuary 13, 2015

Spanish author’s memoir of childhood battle with cancer turned into new U.S. television series

Latina ListaOctober 2, 2014