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Extended Audio Sample A Handbook to Luck Audiobook, by Cristina García Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (223 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Cristina García Narrator: Staci Snell Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2007 ISBN: 9781415939666
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From the acclaimed author of Monkey Hunting (“A miracle of poetic compression . . . An epic of anecdotes, a vista of brief and beautiful glimpses”–Los Angeles Times Book Review), a lyrical, haunting, deeply moving new novel.

Late 1960s. We meet three children: Enrique Florit, from Cuba, living in southern California with his flamboyant magician father . . . Marta Claros, getting by in the slums of San Salvador, forced to leave school to help support her family, her beloved older brother having already left home . . . Leila Rezvani, a well-to-do surgeon’s daughter in Tehran, her mother concerned only with appearances, her father an often foolishly vocal opponent of the Shah.

As we follow them across the next twenty years we see chance draw Leila and Marta into Enrique’s life–Leila and Enrique loving and losing each other, Marta the means to renewed hope for Enrique–and, throughout, “good luck or bad tilting life one way or another” for all of them.

With its cast of vividly drawn characters, its graceful movement through time, and its subtle revelation of the essential hopes and doubts of ordinary people whose lives are made extraordinary by circumstance, A HANDBOOK TO LUCK is Cristina García’s most beautiful, elegiac, and deeply emotional novel yet. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • A magically lyrical meditation on life and human dreams . . . García [is] a poet of imagery and metaphor . . . Richly detailed. Corrie Pikul, Elle
  • Using a graceful parallel storytelling technique, García unfolds [her characters’] stories . . . Provocative. Carol Memmott, USA Today
  • In this absorbing story, García once again uses her talent for description to conjure the melancholic half-memories of the places and people that immigrants leave behind. And García once again skillfully weaves together the stories of several people whose lives eventually intersect. Robin Updike, Seattle Times
  • A Handbook to Luck shines with vulnerable characters, poetic language and poignant epiphanies. Rosie Molinary, Ms.
  • [A Handbook to Luck] evokes the poignant inner conflicts and emotional ambiguities of García's first novel, Dreaming in Cuban . . . García deftly pits the forces of magic and reality against each other, testing the boundaries of cynicism and hope in order to attest to the interconnectedness of strangers' lives. Elena Machado Sáez, Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • In her first three novels, including her marvelous debut, Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina García amply demonstrated her literary gifts, delineating fine gradations of love and hatred, madness and obsession, while juggling multiple narratives . . . [In A Handbook to Luck], García’s characters are linked most strongly by the sense each has of being ungrounded . . . In [Marta’s] story, and in that of Enrique’s father, García’s writing comes to life, flashing with wit and color. Louisa Thomas, New York Times Book Review
  • García expertly braids each of [her characters’] stories together, tenderly tracing the passage of these 1960s children into 1980s adults as they begin to discover the often unavoidable gap ‘between what you planned and what actually happened.’ Sue Corbett, People
  • The pleasure here is García’s truffle-rich prose and expert handling of time’s passage. Karen Karbo, Entertainment Weekly
  • Pitch-perfect . . . García’s novel (and the rich cast of characters that wend their way through it) is driven by a poetic sort of happenstance . . . [The character Leila is] like an Iranian Edna Pontellier, the tragic hero of ‘The Awakening,’ Kate Chopin's classic tale . . . García is still drawn to describe the richness and variety of the immigrant experience. But in A Handbook to Luck she also fixes her attention on the fundamentally human desire to make sense of the world, to impose order on the chaos of nature and to rationalize one's mysterious place within it. Laura Ciolkowski, Chicago Tribune
  • García’s characters have a lot to teach us about playing life’s odds, and about resilience . . . With an ear for language and its cadence, García writes with humor, tenderness and an intuitive sense of how ordinary people weather fortune’s turns. If you long for a ‘handbook’ that reveals how ordinary people become extraordinary, you are in luck. Jane H. Furse, New York Daily News
  • The fortunes of three vividly characterized protagonists are deftly delineated in [A Handbook to Luck] . . . García braids their stories together skillfully, embedding serious political and familial issues in subtly presented personal relations. The amusing extravagances that crop up never compromise their credible, endearing humanity. Best of all, the permutations of bad and good ‘luck’ that shape their individual and shared lives are quite ingeniously compared and contrasted. Another winner for García. Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • In this compelling, vivid, sophisticated, and highly original love story, three lives intertwine in a tale suffused with magic, sacrifice, passion and an exquisite elegiac music. Cristina Garcia has created a beautiful and stunning book. Chris Abani
  • García lovingly portrays her characters grappling with misfortune and luck in unfamiliar surroundings. Publishers Weekly
  • García’s most transfixing and moving novel to date . . . [Her] vital characters cope with exile, violence, and crushed dreams as they struggle toward love and freedom. As García constructs concentric worlds of conflict and longing, discerns cultural paradoxes and human contrariness, and writes rhapsodically of nature’s beauty, life emerges as a cosmic game of chance under luck’s misrule. Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marian | 2/14/2014

    " You've got to enjoy this book. There are some problems with the plot, which never came together as I expected it to, but the dialog is sharp and funny and the individual scenes work well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzy | 1/22/2014

    " This was a book I kept wanting to read, which is pretty high praise from me. Christina Garcia is a good writer and managed to draw up 3 different characters and, as seems to be so popular now, tell a "story" alternating their POVs. Like the movie "Crash," the three immigrants from different countries fall together eventually and by accident, which ends up being why their three stories are being told together. Sort of. The title, I think, must be providing us a hint to another reason. They all have pretty crappy luck, one more crappy than the others, however. I don't know, I enjoyed reading this book, and felt satisfied by the end, but can't really say why. Read it; see what you think. I would definitely read something by Garcia again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jody | 1/21/2014

    " Story is of three young people growing up in different parts of the world, living very different lives. The story alternates between each of their existences as they grow up through the years dealing parents, children, love and work. As usual, I love the international-ness of it. While some of it takes place in the USA, none of the characters are Eurasian white, nor second generation American. From the book cover, I knew the characters would intersect, so I was really curious to see how that would happen. It is done in a very small world way, but also helps you realize that each person you run into has a very unique experience. Even before reading this book, I would imagine that history about the people I meet. We each have our own stories to tell. That reminder was the major lesson of this book for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashley Lucas | 1/17/2014

    " This novel really intrigued me, particularly in the ways that it draws characters from different national origins and ethnicities into some of the same spaces and storylines. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marsha | 1/16/2014

    " I read this because Michelle did. I was frustrated with all the different characters and storylines. I was more interested in some than others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 1/13/2014

    " The way Cristina Garcia weaves the stories of several, very unique characters together in "A Handbook to Luck" reminds me of a beautiful Mayan tapestry. Each color and line stands out individually, but also works in concert with the others to create a wonderful work of art. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 1/12/2014

    " Interesting characters & story. I'm still intrigued by the title. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 1/4/2014

    " Garcia always weaves wonderful stories full of amazing characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy | 1/2/2014

    " One of her best. I enjoyed all of the characters in the book and found it so amazing the ways their lives intertwined. The book had lots of insight into the lives of people in Los Angeles. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Helen | 12/11/2013

    " Oddly familiar - kind of like a pastel version of the movie Crash - or Volver. skip the book, watch the movies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Magi | 10/2/2013

    " cuban father(magician) and son (math and poker whiz. life in vegas for them after death of mother....guilt/blame around the accidental death. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 5/1/2013

    " I liked this one as much as Dreaming in Cuban. I can't say that about any of her other novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wally Bowen | 4/28/2013

    " Anyone who loves Latino literature and novels which capture the reality that the personal is political, and vice versa. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katy | 4/17/2013

    " The stories of Enrique from Cuba, Marta from El Salvidor, and Leila from Iran were captivating! Garcia wove a great story of their desires, their cultures, fitting into America while yet remaining true to themselves, and how one decision can change the course of our lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 1/20/2013

    " I had to read this for class and ended up really liking it!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Mauney | 12/29/2012

    " Excellent Christina Garcia magical realism. I thought as good as Dreaming in Cuban. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Robison | 12/21/2012

    " An excellent book with several individual stories intertwined. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joslyn | 10/9/2012

    " not sure whether to label it 'shorts' or not - each chapter stands as a short story, but the characters and story lines pick back up after visiting a few other locations & people. i really enjoyed this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristie | 9/28/2012

    " Novel weaves the stories of 3 different people over a 20-year span. Each tells about the unfulfilled dreams and how they attempt to alter their fate. A bit depressing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 9/23/2012

    " This is one of those books where the 3 main characters seem to have completely separate lives (in this case one is from Iran, one El Salvador, and one a Cuban living in America), yet by the end of the book the 3 lives are intertwined. It was good, but the ending wasn't very satisfying for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 7/17/2012

    " great characters dealing with real shit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marisa | 7/7/2011

    " A quick read. Nothing ground breaking but the well written characters make it a good time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 6/26/2011

    " Garcia always weaves wonderful stories full of amazing characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherri | 4/2/2011

    " The story of three immigrants in the United States whose lives eventually intertwine.

    "Everyone talked about living the American dream, but what about its ravages?"

    The joys and challenges of trying to make a life in a country that is not your own. Great novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 5/1/2010

    " Interesting characters & story. I'm still intrigued by the title. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 1/14/2010

    " great characters dealing with real shit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Magi | 9/8/2009

    " cuban father(magician) and son (math and poker whiz. life in vegas for them after death of mother....guilt/blame around the accidental death. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 12/17/2008

    " The way Cristina Garcia weaves the stories of several, very unique characters together in "A Handbook to Luck" reminds me of a beautiful Mayan tapestry. Each color and line stands out individually, but also works in concert with the others to create a wonderful work of art. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marian | 6/8/2008

    " You've got to enjoy this book. There are some problems with the plot, which never came together as I expected it to, but the dialog is sharp and funny and the individual scenes work well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marisa | 6/5/2008

    " A quick read. Nothing ground breaking but the well written characters make it a good time. "

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About the Narrator

Staci Snell has worked in radio and as an elementary school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles where she works as an actor. Her television credits include The Shield, The Division, and various commercials. As an audiobook narrator, her numerous titles include Sandra Brown’s Demon Rumm; Ann Rule’s Kiss Me, Kill Me; Sharon Rocha’s For Laci; and Jill Smolinski’s The Next Thing on My List.