In this powerful debut, Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones pieces together the story of her family and Puerto Rico using a captivating combination of historical facts, poems, maps, bits and pieces of overheard conversations, and fragmented anecdotes. Organized around six hurricanes that passed through the island with varying degrees of intensity between 1928 and 2017, The Hurricane Book documents the myriad ways in which colonialism—particularly the relationship between the United States and the island—has seeped into the lives of Puerto Ricans, affecting how they and their land recover from catastrophe, as well as how families and citizens are bound to one another. Moving seamlessly from the personal, to the political, to the environmental, and back again, Acevedo-Quiñones takes the reader through her own experience of family dynamics, mental illness, and substance abuse—and their long-reaching echoes—all against the backdrop of Puerto Rico’s struggles and beauty. Through stories and poems of relatives, folklore, and necessary escape, she illuminates both the tenderness and heartbreak of relationships with relatives and homeland. An attempt at a colony’s etymology in a time when it is perpetually embattled by natural disasters, crippling debt, and the mass exodus of its people, The Hurricane Book is also an invitation to see the realities that many don’t want to see—a refusal to stay in the dark about ourselves or our collective history.
142 pages, Paperback
Rose Metal Press, 2023