The Five Wounds: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company
  • Published : 25 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 448
  • ISBN-10 : 1324020210
  • ISBN-13 : 9781324020219
  • Language : English

The Five Wounds: A Novel

Winner of The Center for Fiction's 2021 First Novel Prize
Shortlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
Longlisted for the 2022 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year • A Publishers Weekly and Library Journal Best Book of the Year in Fiction • A Kirkus Reviews Best Fictional Family of the Year • A Booklist Top Ten Book-Group Book of the Year • A Goodreads Choice Awards Best Debut Novel Nominee

From an award-winning storyteller comes a stunning debut novel about a New Mexican family's extraordinary year of love and sacrifice.

"Masterly…Quade has created a world bristling with compassion and humanity. The characters and the challenges they face are wholly realized and moving; their journeys span a wide spectrum of emotion and it is impossible not to root for [them]." ―Alexandra Chang, New York Times Book Review

It's Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother's house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby's first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo's mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel's mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn't speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda's uncle and keeper of the family's history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn't think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as "legitimate masterpieces" (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

Editorial Reviews

Masterly... Quade has created a world bristling with compassion and humanity. The characters and the challenges they face are wholly realized and moving; their journeys span a wide spectrum of emotion and it is impossible not to root for [them].--Alexandra Chang "New York Times Book Review"

[A] fine-grained domestic saga... Quade is masterful with [her characters'] fragility... [A] big-hearted novel.--Mark Athitakis "USA Today"

Gorgeously textured... [Quade's] sinewy sentences and emotional daring astound... Quade glides elegantly across a silken tightrope between comedy and tragedy, twists of fate that buoy her narrative to its resonant conclusion. The Five Wounds is destined to be one of this year's most celebrated works of fiction.--Hamilton Cain "Minneapolis Star Tribune"

Kirstin Valdez Quade's debut novel hooked me on page one... It's a wholehearted, radiant, and darkly funny exploration of family, faith, and forgiveness.--Arianna Rebolini "Buzzfeed"

A gorgeously written, epic tale of one Latinx family's via dolorosa.-- "O Magazine"

A masterful novel of family, faith, doubt. Quade's storytelling gift is her ability to capture the mysterious pulse of belief and ground them in visceral ritual on the page.-- "Millions"

In this cruel and divisive era, Kirstin Valdez Quade has brought healing and regeneration with The Five Wounds. It is bracing and wise, and it breaks us in the best ways. Then builds us back up again. It should find many grateful readers.--Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Broken Angels

Kirstin Valdez Quade writes with exquisite precision about the fragility and resilience of the Padilla family...I loved The Five Wounds, which reminded me that growing pains are not confined to adolescence and that people can be newborn at any age. Even its most excruciating moments are charged with a luminous compassion.--Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories

Penetrating... The well-developed characters convey palpable emotion as Amadeo's failures as a father, partner, entrepreneur, and even as Jesus translate into fits of rage and frustration. Quade's rendering of a singular community is pitch perfect.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"

Profoundly affecting... Expertly crafted, this story of family and community introduces us to often needy characters for whom readers come to care deeply. Highly recommended.-- "Library Journal (starred review)"

Quade ably delivers a story that is nuanced and authentic without a whiff of melodrama... [A] generous tale of characters who understand the inevitability of fate but try to forge ahead anyway in the hope of breaking free.-- "Booklist (starred review)"

With beautifully layered relationships and an honest yet profoundl...

Readers Top Reviews

the novel is well written but the characters had no appeal to me in any way shape or form. the author gave her characters an intelligent inner life that that was not mirrored in their actions.
BluefishVictoria Haw
The book realistic and even insightful in its portrayal of the Norteños of New Mexico. But it also badly mischaracterizes some of the cherished values of the good people of the area. The grotesque and long outdated "Penitente" ritual that opens the story is a good example of the extreme and misleading characterizations Valdez-Quade spins for her elite audience. No doubt her story makes for great Ivy League cocktail party conversation. Those poor, clueless New Mexicans.... ++++++++++++++++ Addendum: I have to say I badly misjudged this book (e.g., written above before I completed it). At first, on the surface, it seemed to be sacrilegious. But I was wrong. The story actually is very much reflective of the inner lives of working people everywhere, but especially of modern day Hispanics living in Northern New Mexico. In the end, Valdez-Quade is a brilliantly insightful writer.
What makes this novel so difficult to read, is how realistically painful life can be. At times I would find myself setting the book aside because I couldn't deal with the lives of these characters. The story centers around the Padilla family. Yolanda, the matriarch, is a woman in her fifties. Yolanda is the heart and soul of this family. She works her job, keeps her house, and tries to find a little happiness. She is such a lovely character filled with so much strength. When she is dealt a devastating blow she deals with it on her own and keeps it a secret. Yolanda's son, Amadeo, is a loser. Amadeo he is a thirty-three year old alcoholic who has not never held a steady job. He pretty much lives off his mother, lives in her house without lifting a hand in helping out around the house. Amadeo has never taken responsibility for anything in his life not even Angel, the daughter he fathered when he was sixteen. What saved Amadeo for me as a character is that he has the biggest heart. He is a loser but he knows he's a loser. He wants to change but can't or doesn't know how. Angel, Amadeo's daughter, has found herself pregnant at sixteen. She has dropped out of school and is for the first time living with her father. Angel wants a better life for herself and her child. She is the hardest character in the novel to like. She is a self-centered teenager who thinks the world should revolve around her. Angel is also a fighter and is trying to do something about the vicious cycle of being an unwed teenage mother. All three characters make truly bad decisions in this novel which come back to haunt them. Their lives are so extremely sad that you want to go over to the Padilla household and help out. The only reason that I did not give this novel 5 stars is because it was such a sad novel.
Frances D
The Five Wounds is not light reading, but it is a beautifully written, moving story centered on four generations of the Padilla family in a small dying town near Española, New Mexico. Yolanda Padilla, the family matron, doesn’t tell her family about her serious illness as she caters to her alcoholic son Amadeo and her pregnant teenage granddaughter Angel, who are too absorbed in their own lives to notice that Yolanda is failing. Soon they are joined by Angel’s newborn son, Conor. The family members struggle to do good, to deal with their own pain, and to overcome their weaknesses. Valdez Quade does a great job of depicting culture that is a mix of modern and old New Mexico Hispanic traditions, the efforts of the family members to get by and to improve their lives in a small, depressed New Mexico community, despite teen-aged pregnancy, divorce and alcoholism. She is a master of human foible, and she manages an uplifting and hopeful ending to a difficult story. Meanwhile, there is the writing. Here are a few examples. She describes a farm “irrigated by acequias, the straight green rows defiant in the face of discount Walmart food.” The dog “gets to her feet, grinning her frilled black-edged lips and wagging her tail nub.” On Easter Sunday “children and adults alike returned to their homes to glut themselves on Peeps and cheap grainy jelly beans. The austerity of Lent is past, the countless lapses and broken promises forgiven, Christ’s sacrifice forgotten.”

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