When the De La Cruz Family Danced is a breathtaking portrayal of acceptance, longing, and loss – as one family learns forgiveness 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 sound pulling the reader onto every page.
Set within a Filipino suburb of the California-Mexico border, the book opens with a month long journey to the Philippines in which Johnny de la Cruz finds himself face to face with the grown-up beauty queen of Little Manila, Bunny Piña. Nearly twenty years later, we encounter Bunny’s only son, Winston, on the doorstep of the de la Cruz home.
“On Monday afternoon, Winston arrived at the de la Cruz residence exactly on time … Even through the screen door, he recognized Tessie. She was dressed in white slacks and an aqua short-sleeved blouse that, though becoming, made Winston think of the synthetic color of the Beachcomber pool.”
Miscolta is as skilled in her writing as she is full of surprises. From gambling to the box step and Filipino beauty queens, When the De La Cruz Family Danced makes me laugh and cry when I least expect it. By the end of the book I am as much a part of the De La Cruz family as Johnny de la Cruz himself. It takes incredible tact and skill to bring together such a diverse array of characters and Miscolta does this with impeccable flair.