The Barbarian Nurseries

Tobar, Héctor

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Barbarian Nurseries
After the husband and wife that she works for disappear, live-in maid Araceli takes their two boys on a journey through sprawling Los Angeles to locate their grandfather.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374108991
Branch Call Number: FICTION TOBAR 2011
Characteristics: 422 p. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

April. The very privileged parents of two small boys have a fight and take off, separately, without talking to each other or their Mexican maid, who made it clear when she was hired that she doesn't do childcare. A big mess ensues. I liked this a lot. It had a lot to say about attitudes about imm... Read More »

When a well-to-do husband and wifeboth decide to take a break from domestic life following a dramatic fight and neither bothers to inform the other, their two sons wind up in the care of the family's live-in maid. Unable to reach their parents and reluctant to contact the police because of her un... Read More »

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Apr 21, 2014

"Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson live with their two children in a fancy Orange County home, though financial troubles exacerbated by Maureen's wild spending on a garden renovation have forced them to let go of much of their staff. Araceli, the undocumented housekeeper, must now care for the kids. But when both mum and dad disappear for days (taking "breaks" they neglect to tell each other or Araceli about), Araceli attempts to do the right thing by bringing the kids to their grandfather, who lives somewhere in L.A. When Scott and Maureen return to an empty house, they panic and call the cops, provoking a media circus that assumes the Mexican housekeeper has kidnapped the kids. Readers interested in social issues and the disconnect between wealthy Americans and the workers they hire will not want to miss The Barbarian Nurseries." Fiction A to Z April 2014 newsletter

Nov 01, 2013
  • CatherineLibrarian rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was a recommendation from a coworker. I loved the imagery and cultural richness of modern LA. Araceli is a very unlikely but perfect protagonist. I enjoyed how the vision of the city and the characters changed as the point of view of the book changed. A great book to have a conversation about. Book club fodder!

Jun 29, 2012
  • retiredbubby rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Mr. Tobar went off on tangets quite often. I found that this got me off course. This didn't allow me to keep my mind focused and connected. There are many sentences in Spanish. There is no way of figuring out the meaning of these sentences. When writing for an English speaking audience either write in English or include the translation.

Feb 23, 2012
  • KSerá rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Similar themes to "The Help", but concerning current affairs and more credible.

Jan 29, 2012
  • M_Henderson rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Outstanding, timely, engaging book. The characters live and breathe -- I cared about them, even the ones I didn't like so much (well, except for the district attorney...didn't care for/about him! <grin>)

Jan 20, 2012
  • burleighsmith rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This enjoyable novel is a gently told drama about social classes and struggles between them in LA today. I found most effective the initial set up and especially the presentation of the unlikely (& very attractive, because of this) protagonist, Araceli. But I also really liked the humor and charm associated with the 2 pre-teen boys: their commentary, their insights, and their attitudes. Perhaps because of their ages, the latter are all full of honesty and that gives all hope for the future. The title might imply harshness. Be ensured, it’s not that. Even the villains are relatively harmless in this saga.

Dec 07, 2011
  • Nann rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson are living beyond their means in a gated community. They have a big argument and separately leave home--each thinking that the other stayed behind with their two sons (11 and 9). The only adult in the house is Araceli, the Mexican housekeeper (who is an illiegal resident). With no food, little cash, and no way to contact the parents, Araceli decides to take the boys to find their grandfather in south central LA -- a whole new world to the boys. Meanwhile the parents arrive home and think the boys have been kidnapped. A manhunt ensues, there is an arrest, an investigation, and a release. Tobar handles multiple points of view deftly. This is an insightful commentary on contemporary society.


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