The Book of Unknown Americans

by

Cristina Henríquez

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The Book of Unknown Americans: Chapter 25: Alma Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is Friday, and Alma is waiting at the front window of the apartment for Maribel to get home from school. It is snowing outside, and there is no sign of Maribel—Alma gets nervous, and she puts on her coat and boots and walks outside. She heads to the Toros’ apartment—Celia is surprised to see her, as the two have not talked since Maribel and Mayor have stopped seeing one another. Alma tells Celia that Maribel’s bus didn’t come twenty minutes ago when it was supposed to—Celia assures Alma that Maribel is not in the apartment and that though Mayor is not home either, he is not with Maribel—“he knows the rule,” and he is at a movie with his friend William.
Alma wanted Maribel to stop seeing Mayor as an attempt to safeguard her from being coerced or taken advantage of. After fearing that Garrett would harm Maribel so intensely, it makes sense that Alma would want to keep Maribel away from any boy at all. However, in attempting to prevent her daughter from making “small insurrections,” Alma has driven Maribel to act out even more—something she wasn’t even sure her daughter was capable of in the wake of her accident. Meanwhile, Celia remains faith in Mayor’s allegiance to the “rules,” despite the fact that he has spent the entire school year breaking rule after rule.
Themes
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
Alma becomes afraid that Garrett has somehow taken Maribel, and she makes “an anguished sound.” Celia implores her to calm down and offers to make some coffee while the two of them wait for Maribel to get home. Celia calls Mayor, but his phone is off, and she again assumes that he is in a movie.
Celia and Alma are isolated from their children, and all they can do is wait and hope for each of their safe returns.
Themes
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Alma calls Arturo and tells him that he needs to come home from job-hunting—Maribel has not come home from school. Arturo asks if Alma has called the school, and she is “embarrassed” that she hasn’t. As soon as she and Arturo hangs up, she contacts Evers, but there is no answer. Arturo arrives home and Alma confesses that she has been hiding something from him—she tells him all about Garrett. Arturo is hurt that Alma lied to him, but Alma insists she was just trying not to add to his worry—more than that, she wanted to “make it up to him” for being the one responsible for Maribel’s fall off the ladder. Arturo assures her that he does not blame her for what happened and that neither of them could have known that Maribel would fall. Arturo begs Alma to forgive herself and assures her that they will find Maribel.
As Alma and Arturo attempt to track down Maribel, the truth of the last several months comes out. Alma reveals the situation that has been unfolding with Garrett Miller and confesses that she kept everything from Arturo because of her crushing guilt over not being able to keep Maribel safe—either from the accident or from Garrett. In isolating herself and attempting to head off any harm or pain, Arturo points out, Alma has deepened the gravity of the situation. He implores her to overcome her guilt before it sinks her—and her family—any deeper into more pain or trouble.
Themes
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
Arturo calls the police, who say that the school has already notified them that Maribel is missing and that a patrol car has been sent out to look for her. The police officer reassures Alma and Arturo that “kids [Maribel’s] age” are always in trouble, and that she will probably come home on her own soon. Arturo puts on his cowboy hat and readies himself to leave—Alma asks him where he is going, and Arturo tells her he is going to track down Garrett Miller. He tells Alma to stay put in case Maribel comes home and he promises her that he will be back soon.
As Arturo and Alma become increasingly desperate to find their daughter—who they are still unable to see as exhibiting normal behavior for “kids her age”—Arturo takes matters into his own hands. He puts on his cowboy hat as if readying himself for battle, but assures Alma that no harm will come to any of them. 
Themes
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
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