Author: Gregory Erich Phillips
Publisher: Koehler Books
Type of book: Housing crisis, immigration, American dream, 2007-2008, South America, Columbia, secrets, romance, younger male/older female, white male/Hispanic female, Phoenix Arizona
Year it was published: 2019
Leila stepped off the plane in Colombia, recognizing the familiar air. She couldn't believe she'd been deported. It had to be a mistake. She had to find a way back before it was too late, before the people she fled from years ago were aware of her return. It had all been going so right. A successful career working for one of the top mortgage brokers in Phoenix. Love. Leila had all the elements of her life just where she wanted them. Then everything began to unravel, precipitated by the 2008 mortgage meltdown, and a romance that quickly spiraled out of her control. The Exile is a heart-wrenching love story that crosses cultures and borders, shedding light on the challenges faced by Hispanic immigrants living in the United States.
The Exile won first prize for mainstream fiction in the PNWA literary contest.
Fast-paced, suspenseful, steamy.
I feel that one of his strongest characters, and the best, is Leila del Sol, a young woman who got an unexpected opportunity to make something of her life. One can't help but admire and root for her throughout the story and to just tell her to go after her dreams. The more I got to know Leila, the more I grew to like her. There are other characters in the tale such as Ashford and Ashford's mother who happens to be Leila's boss, as well as Leila's father, but I often feel that they aren't drawn as well as Leila was. Ashford is younger than Leila and grew up on ideas that he can have whatever and whoever he wants. He is a very kind and tender-hearted young man who is hopelessly in love with Leila and desires to be a doctor as well as get out from his mother's domineering thumb. His mother is best described as very ruthless and merciless when it comes to her company and employees. Leila's father cares a lot for her and wants for her to be happy, even daring to do what he can for Leila.
There is a double standard when it comes to native Europeans and immigrants
Most of the book is in third person narrative from Leila's point of view, although from time to time other characters also take up the narrative. The author does a terrific job of researching multiple aspects of the tale, be it immigration, the American dream, living as a Columbian woman, romance and being forced to be judged by different stereotypes, and yes, the housing, although a lot about the mortgage flew over my head, to be honest. Overall, great research and well-done female character in terms of Leila del Sol. I also would have wanted a bit more chemistry between Leila and her paramour Ashford.
(From the book)
Gregory Erich Phillips tells aspirational stories through strong, relatable characters that transcend time and place. His debut novel, LOVE OF FINISHED YEARS, won the grand prize in the prestigious Chanticleer Reviews international writing competition. Living in Seattle, WA, Gregory is also an accomplished tango dancer and musician.
At one point when I checked the rating for the book on Goodreads, I was sad to see that it didn't reach 3 stars! And this story does not deserve such a low rating. There are plenty of reasons on why I loved THE EXILE by Gregory Erich Phillips; one is the fact that Gregory Erich Phillips genuinely writes from a feminine point of view (Leila is beautiful, and at times gets treated as an object, but the author is very conscious in pointing that out.) My favorite scene is when she tells a male co-worker to stop looking at her boobs) I also grew to love and admire Leila's pluckiness and headstrong personality, especially how she kept her life together. I also loved the details about immigration process and the attention to what stereotypes Leila is forced to encounter, and the fact its a young male/older female romance is a big bonus in my book. If you enjoy detailed stories of immigration, American dream and a very sweet romance, give this tale a try.
This is for Claire McKinneyPR, LLC review
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)