Reviews: The Class-H Trilogy
Out of the melting pot. Into the fire.
"In such explosive times as ours, it is rare to discover a novel that captures fanaticism in all its extremes and tells a story as thrilling and vibrant as Raul Ramos y Sanchez's AMERICA LIBRE. Future and history collide in a cautionary tale of a new Civil War on American soil. A must-read for all, no matter where you draw your line in the sand."
James Rollins - New York Times bestselling author
"Sanchez's debut is a sweeping, intense novel of extremism, fear and consequences. In Los Angeles in the near future, tensions run high between Hispanics and Anglos, especially after the death of an innocent Latina bystander in Texas sparks nationwide riots. In need of a job, ex-Army Ranger Manolo “Mano” Suarez joins La Defensa del Pueblo, started by wealthy Ramon Garcia to foster Hispanic unity in the face of Anglo violence. Despite his wife's growing reservations, Mano and the group are able to turn Hispanic gangs into allies against a common enemy. As violence and fear escalate—and are manipulated — “Quarantine Zones” and camps are created to segregate Hispanics from the general population. Mano, who dedicated his life to patriotism, sees his own country turn on him because of his heritage, disregarding his value as an individual. Originally self-published, Ramos y Sanchez's ambitious, cautionary tale poses questions without easy answers, but its flaw, ironically, is the lack of diversity, with all the characters being either Hispanic or Anglo."
"It has been a long time since a book can move a person to think, get angry, or, feel empathy with the characters. This is one novel that does all three."
"Populated with unforgettable characters, this book will haunt me for a long time to come."
Beverly J. Rowe - MyShelf.com
“America Libre is a well-conceived, well executed, cautionary tale about the deterioration of civility and the encroachment of terror in America as its people try to strike back at perceived enemies without first figuring out whether the "enemy" struck first—or at all. As the story unfolds, it deftly points the finger of blame at all of us who believe we are beyond thinking in stereotypes and reacting fearfully to them. ‘How far would you go to protect the ones you love,’ America Libre seems to ask, ‘from what you might allow yourself and your country to become?’”
Rebecca Coffey - Writer, filmmaker and radio host
"Thematically similar to T.C. Boyle’s enormously popular The Tortilla Curtain (1995), Raul Ramos’s America Libre is a story of what we all struggle with when we decide where we stand on the issue of immigration. This is a fast-paced novel that although written in 2004 suggests some eerie parallels with contemporary US politics and policies. In this apocalyptic vision of a nation driven to civil war by deep fissures in the American ethnic melting pot, Ramos subtly suggests parallels to other moments in American history from the race riots in the urban ghettoes early in the century to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Ramos knows US culture and history well and offers readers yet another perspective on what it means to be an American in the ethnically diverse landscape of the 21st Century. This is a novel that is sure to appeal to readers concerned with future-oriented thinking. It is a first novel that promises more."
Edward J. Mullen Ph.D. - Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair
Professor of Spanish, University of Missouri-Columbia
“Any spark can ignite violence when justice is continuously denied. Ramos's scenario of U.S. Hispanics taking up arms to fight for their dignity gives us Manolo Suarez, an honorable man whose radical conversion provides insights into the hopes and disappointments of the U.S. Latino experience. America Libre creatively provides the reader with a window into the despair, brought about by racism, faced by many of our Hispanic neighbors."
Miguel De La Torre, Ph.D. - Director of the Justice and Peace Institute,
Iliff School of Theology
“An engaging, fast-moving story of love, intrigue and personal and ethnic conflict, wrapped in rich, thought-provoking political and cultural commentary."
Richard W. Slatta, Ph.D.– Professor of History, North Carolina State University
“This is a thoroughly evil book. This is not literature; this is a La Raza fantasy of the ‘reconquista’ – a Chicano nationalist movement that seeks to retake portions of the United States in the name of Hispanic racial and social justice. It is hate and an invitation to cold-blooded murder in the name of hate.”
“I loved the book and found it intriguing and mentally stimulating. America Libre is one of thebooks to read this 2009, so make sure you have it on your list.”
Mayra Calvani, Examiner.com Latino book reviewer
“The blend of human struggle with social, historical, and political perspectives is a good mix. The characters are well developed."
John Woods - Adjunct Professor, University of Dayton
“I found the topic timely, and the message timeless. While most people will pick up this book for the action, they will walk away with much more."
"This is the kind of book that jumps alive in your hands. It whispers to you of love and compassion, and shrieks at you from the depths of hatred and confusion. In dealing with the immigration issue this book is certainly timely, but I believe its greatest value actually lies in the wonderfully uncomfortable way in which it shatters the over simplification which plagues most of the world's problems - that there is simply good and bad, right and wrong, Latino and Gringo. What a great gift this author has given us in these pages, where innocents become enemies, heroes disappoint and hope kindles in dark places. As much homage as this book pays to the Latino cause, it also beckons to the broader human cause: Let us all be aware of the slippery slope that constitutes our perspectives and judgments. Let us all treat with reverence the complexity of our community. And let us all think twice, even thrice, before we decide our choices. Read it, and most importantly, read it well!"
"Let me tell you what... It's well written. It's believable. It's touching. It's fast moving. It's thought provoking. It's scary. It's one of the best books I've ever read!"
Elizabeth T. Neas
Frankly, when I first picked up America Libre I didn’t know what to expect. I suspected it might be very militant and inflammatory in its perspective; a call for violent revolution. But actually, quite the opposite is true. America Libre is a passionate cry for tolerance, understanding and moderation. Raul Ramos y Sanchez’s saga is a plea for justice and sanity…and perhaps most of all, a sobering cautionary tale. It urges us all to remember the genuine principles upon which our great nation was founded. The book is also one helluva read. The characterization is rich and complex, and the story takes the reader on a pulse-quickening and frightening journey into an American heart of darkness that becomes disturbingly more plausible with each passing day. The lead character, Manolo Suarez, is a man who has served his country honorably only to find a world gone mad in which there are virtually no options left for him and his family. The gut-wrenching choices he is forced to make serve as the crux of the novel. America Libre is a landmark, thought-provoking work. The novel raises a red flag. And it reminds us that if we do not remain vigilant, that flag could someday turn out to be red, white and blue. I urge you to read it. And think about it.
“Mano is a very appealing mix of strength, intelligence, and most importantly, a family man of unwavering moral committment."
“A well written story which projects one of America's gravest social problems to a realistic & fateful conclusion. A good, thoughtful read!"
James L. Adams
I, being of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in New York and having served in the military, have experienced much of what the main character (Manolo) experienced. One need only take a look at the current events in relation to immigration and english-only bills to relate the story. The Latino experience in America is compelling enough in itself and this book explores and points out several issues that all Latinos share, whether born in the U.S. or not.
Efrain Ortiz, Jr.
"As a poli-sci major I'm a pretty hard sell on military and political thrillers; but I would stack this up against a Uris or Clancy novel. Considering current immigration laws springing up across the US (Oklahoma and Vermont) and rising public temperatures regarding illegals - all aimed at Latinos; America Libre feels more like historical fact than a possible future. The book feels current and it's carefully crafted step-by-step "how to start a revolution" makes it more than believable; and more than a little scary."
“America Libre is a real page-turner and I'm looking forward to the next book. Immigration is a timely topic, and Raul Ramos Sanchez illustrates realistically how ordinary people and whole societies can fall into violence.”
“If you like Clancy novels, you will probably like this one too. I think this book may become a best-seller and it would also make a great movie as well (as other reviewers in this space have suggested). This is a thriller with kind of a unique twist in that it is told primarily from the perspective of revolutionaries. It's very believable. I also like the fast paced writing style.”
Elliot B. Kennel
“Raul's book opened my eyes to the real possibiities of an American immigration policy that deals with numbers and not with people. In the country where 9-11 happened, this could be the next crisis if the issue of immigration - legal and illegal - is not addressed. This is a great, if not unsettling, read that rings eerily possible.”
“America Libre has a great story line, with excellent characters. I have already given my copy to a friend and have sent other friends to the website to purchase it. To me this book flowed a bit like a Tom Clancy Novel, (which is a huge complement to Raul - since Tom Clancy is one of my favorite authors). The basic conflict comes from a plausible scenario that could stem from current events. The characters are real people that you grow to love and want to learn more about them. As a result, I spent a few late nights ripping through this book to see how Mano & Jo would gain back their freedoms. The ending surprised me which was very enjoyable and as with any great novel I was left with this feeling of, "’When does the next novel in this series come out?’"
Allan A. Coulson
“Senor Ramos y Sanchez wrote a ‘novel of a national nightmare’ that we all hope will never come to fruition. Immigration rallies are in the news today and our country and current administration continue to ignore the issues. What will happen? America Libre is a fast paced book with characters that are well developed and real. The last third of the book was a real page-turner. It will make a great, action-packed movie.”
A. L. Barr
“Very intense from the first page to the last. The author makes you feel like you are right there in the middle of it all. I actually flipped forward a few pages occasionally because I couldn't wait to read what was next. Two weeks later, I still think about the story and am planning on reading it again. Highly recommended!”
“The current fervor over immigration and the potential for the abuse of power is brought to the forefront in America Libre. The story provides an insight into the disenfranchised of this country, and how one man in his struggle to provide for and protect his family is still willing to confront the tragedy and injustice of bad policy and human cruelty, and inspire a movement of epic proportion. Mano can not turn his head from that which turns his stomach, nor can America. America Libre is a must read to keep fresh in our minds and hearts that love and virtue must outlast selfishness and greed.”
“Just finished your book -- one of the most compelling, most thought-provoking around! Thanks for a suspenseful and meaningful read!!!"
AMERICA LIBRE by Raul Ramos y Sanchez introduced me to an amazing new author. What a surprising book! I thought this was never going to be "my kind of book". I read lots of genres but this seemed too military/warlike/history for me. Was I wrong!
America Libre...great book! Something that seemed an impossibility, suddenly became very possible!!! Although I've always been extremely skeptical about such a scenario occurring in the US, I can see how quickly something like this could happen. It's a captivating book and certainly thought provoking.
"The current political climate and many voices in America have made the setting of House Divided more imaginable. No matter where the reader stands on immigration, Sanchez’s message of “the dangers of extremism – on both sides of this explosive issue” is especially imperative. I look forward to reading the conclusion of this riveting trilogy."
Neworld Review - Michael Carey
"House Divided, sequel to the award-winning America Libre, blends a delightful cast of unlikely heroes, unsavory but complex villains, and tales of familial, ethnic, and national conflicts, all delivered in riveting, bite-sized, suspenseful chapters. Author Raul Ramos y Sanchez combines futuristic visions of a deeply divided nation with provocative critiques of global and national political foibles and problems all too recognizable today. He compels us to care about the novel's characters and to recognize the complexities and difficulties of their all-too-human condition."
Richard W. Slatta, Ph.D.– Professor of History, North Carolina State University
"The kind of novel I enjoy most is based on a good story, well told, with compelling characters. House Divided hits all those marks. It not only held my interest from beginning to end but provoked thought about the state of Anglo-Hispanic relations in this country (or, to use the book's slang, between "Baldies" and "Panchos"). Raul Ramos's gripping novel raises questions about where we're headed on this divide that we ignore at our peril. If you enjoy a good read and want to learn something while reading, House Divided is your book."
Ralph Keyes - best-selling author of Is There Life After High School?
“This book has an inherent momentum and literary integrity that keeps readers turning the page. At times HOUSE DIVIDED reads like a well-paced, multi-layered political novel. At times it reads like a vivisection of race troubles in America. At times it reads like a family saga, at times like a thriller. It is all of those, but most of all it's a page-turner.”
Rebecca Coffey – writer, documentary filmmaker and radio commentator.
"It's a fascinating story about a near-future world in which the United States has turned on itself. Hispanics are no longer citizens and have been placed in quarantine zones. The country is at war with itself and the characters are fighting that war, not just with each other, but in their hearts as well. Raul Ramos y Sanchez has written a tremendous book in House Divided."
David Weedmark - award-winning author and poet
"The struggle to grow up in a harsh, racist, and war-torn world world will be of interest to all YAs, particularly those who have faced similar hardships in their own lives."
Booklist - Julie Hunt
"At turns, exciting, pensive and heartbreaking, House Divided is delivered as a body blow to the American conscience. The novel picks up where the preceding one left off. But this time, the positions are far more polarized, the brutality far more horrific … on both sides. The central character is once again Manolo Suarez, a leader of the resistance, who is forced to fight for the survival of his people and his family. Suarez is a richly compelling character; not a willing warrior, but a tortured, complex man often at war with his own soul. In this book as in the first, there are no easy choices and no simple solutions. Each of the characters face gut-wrenching decisions that determine their own fate, as well as the outcome of the struggle. Inevitably and tragically, they lose a part of themselves in the process. Read the book. Read the headlines. And for God’s sake, think about what kind of country you want to live in."
Dom Cimei - writer and creative director
"Powerful. Realistic. Terrifying. Thrilling. Spellbinding."
Latina Book Club
This is not the type of book I usually read (my attention usually strays at the first sign of military jargon), so I was surprised how quickly I became absorbed into the story; I could not put the book down.
The Feminist Texican
"From a woman's perspective, I especially liked Rosa's relationship with Celia, a local curandera (faith healer); but I don't want to spoil this engaging novel for you by giving away the good parts. Just put this one on your "must read" list."
Rose A. Valenta - author of Sitting on Cold Porcelain
"Rarely have I seen a storyline that is so educational, thought-provoking and yet (dare I say?) fun! Ironic that the author is able to do this with a current topic that is both so timely and also so painful: immigration and the perception of Latinos in the mainstream U.S. lens. And yet he does. Reading this book is like watching an action adventure movie. However, at the same time, it's a drama and you come to care about the characters."
Aurelia E. Flores
"I'm a huge fan of this author (Raul Ramos y Sanchez) and I was thrilled when I heard that his second book, House Divided was out. If you read and liked his first book (America Libre), you'll love House Divided. It's a book that makes you feel like you are right there in the story with the characters (Rosa is my favorite). I usually take a few weeks to read a book, but I read House Divided in a few days because I needed to know what was going to happen next. I can't wait for my friends to finish the book so we can talk about it!"
"House Divided is one of those novels that you'll probably read in one or two sittings and find it hard to put down, wishing when you reach "The End" that there was more "
"The character development in this book was so well done, you could read it and love it even if you hadn't read Raul Ramos y Sanchez's first book, America Libre. The setting and plot were very gripping, and I had a hard time putting the book down, even when it was finished. Already, I can't wait for the next one!."
Donna Haller Pitstick
"It's a great read, entertaining and engaging. But reading it with an awareness of what's happening in our nation right now makes it seem like a history book written in the near future, an amazing concurrence of fiction, the past, and the potential future of the United States of America regarding what may be its most influential current segment. The author's perspective provides such a balanced view that it's difficult at times to know which side to cheer for. "
Robert P. Englert
"Our people. A phrase full of goodness that, to history's great shame, is used time and time again to manipulate those unwilling to see. Our people: Latinos who kill other Latinos for daring to disagree. Our people: Colleagues who ally under patriotic rhetoric one day only to sabotage each other the next. Our people: Soldiers who bury themselves in hatred to numb the similarities they see between `us' and `them'. In the second book in the America Libre triology, Raul Ramos y Sanchez takes the reader on a somber and dizzying journey through the maze of what it is to be "our people". Raul shows the reader many angry voices in this maze - voices who believe their path to be straight and true, but who find that even with their victories they are dragged into a hopeless tangle of hypocrisy, pain and misery that offers solace to no one. "Our people!" they cry. In this book, bombs are launched, revolutions are staged, and blood is splattered, and when the dust settles the ones left standing cannot define themselves or their cause so easily. And this, and only this, is the beginning of their hope."
"Raul Ramos y Sanchez has taken this, his second novel, to new heights. As I read through the pages of House Divided I felt the fluidity of the story as if I had never put down his first novel, America Libre. I absolutely love the way Raul brings a new twist to his tale of an America divided by civil war. This novel, much like his first, is a must read for all."
Efrain Ortiz Jr.
"Exciting. Thought-provoking. House Divided really pulls at this readers heart strings. Book Clubs will find the questions in the Reading Group Guide to be useful for initiating discussions. The highly-anticipated second installment of the America Libre Trilogy, House Divided, will be another successful book for award winning Cuban-American author, Raul Ramos y Sanchez. I can't wait to see what happens in his next book "
Sophin Zoe Pruong McCreery
"I absolutely loved House Divided. I found the book to be action packed and very easy too read, which I read straight through in one day. What I love about the book is that we are seeing a lot of activities on our southern borders, so the book's premise feels believable. I think this series would make a great movie; again I find myself awaiting the final installment."
"Like Mockingjay (the last title of the Hunger Games trilogy), Pancho Land kept me up all night reading about war and, in the end, weeping about the losses that help create peace."
Rebecca Coffey, author of Unspeakable Truths
"A strong novel peopled by characters who grip us and don't let go. I was in the author's hands all the way."
John Thorndike, author of The Last of His Mind
"Raul Ramos y Sanchez is one of the brightest stars to join the growing constellation of talented, outstanding Hispanic-American authors in the United States. His Class H trilogy is dystopia taken to new heights, with his believable, authentic characters and immediacy."
Thelma T. Reyna, Author of Hearts in Common
"Pancho Land is a masterwork of American fiction. You will find it alternately thrilling and disturbing. But I make you one promise: Long after you turn the last page, you will be thinking about the questions posed by this remarkable book."
"The plotting is spot on, as the twists and turns as well as action is finely combined with the human drama...this is a true thinking person's thriller!"
Richard S. Friedman, Founder James Mason Community Book Club
"Pancho Land, the third installment of Ramos y Sanchez' Class H trilogy, has to be the year's most original political thriller. I was drawn into Mano and Rosa's story of love, family and struggle for justice."
Veronica L. Jacuinde
"Pancho Land is a richly plotted, highly visual novel. But that's not to say there isn't real character development. There is, and it's at its best when we're shoulder to shoulder with these characters--which is too rarely found in commercial fiction of any genre."
"In this third installment to his "Class H" series which includes, America Libre and House Divided, Raul Ramos y Sanchez manages to revisit, yet continue to tell the story of rebellion, love, family and friendship in the face of adversity with a fluidity that doesn't skip a beat. Kudos!"
Efrain Ortiz, Jr.
"From the first page to the last, there is such a connection with the characters that you feel as if you are there with them sharing their fears, their sorrows and their triumphs. This is a story about many things...love, war, injustice, family ties, friendship, and human nature. It is about the will to survive and the need to thrive".
"This futuristic view of North America is what any of us, Hispanics or not, would never want to see. The suspense keeps you glued to the electronic pages. The rich plot goes through at a rapid pace and the suspense builds to one of those endings that, frankly, I was not able to predict."
"Raul Ramos Y Sanchez, has created not only a work that informs us of the history of the U.S. and Latin America and the political dynamics of revolt by peoples who are disenfranchised, but he creates a landscape peopled with characters of flesh and blood and relates their stories on a very individual level."
"It is disturbing, thought-provoking and entirely plausible. If you value your sleep, don't start reading too close to bedtime. One hint: if you're Spanish-challenged like myself, start by reading the Glossary, which explains the occasional Spanish terms that are sprinkled throughout the story.
"A couple of times while reading on the bus, I almost missed my stop because I visualized every scene.."
Lala Flores, Class H member
"One of the most interesting, yet disturbing, aspects of this story is how you could envision something similar actually playing out in some fashion in our country. The book gives us a better understanding of how otherwise compassionate and caring people can be blinded to the realities of how others are forced to live."
"Raul Ramos y Sanchez again kept me on the edge of my seat, mentally dodging bullets and praying that the characters escaped unharmed. The author has masterfully crafted an intricate story of rebellion, war, love, hate, and forgiveness."
Rose A. Valenta, author of Sitting on Cold Porcelain
"Pancho Land is a thought-provoking thriller that very well may rattle your deeply ingrained beliefs. It will test your moral fiber and make you ask yourself, 'What would I do?'"
"At a time in our country when immigration is such a hot topic Raul's book illustrates how easily people can be led astray and things can spiral out of control. I couldn't put it down."
"Thoughtful, intense and gripping! Pancho Land is an unforgettable novel that leaves a bold impression. It opens our eyes to the frightening consequences of a nation fearing each others' differences."
CRITICS' REVIEWS OF THE CLASS-H TRILOGY
"THRILLING AND VIBRANT"
New York Times Best-Selling Author James Rollins