In the Affairs of the Falcóns, Rivero illustrates the complex politics and emotions at play within a single family trying to make their way as immigrants in a the US: the racism and classism within the Peruvian community, strained loyalties and the dissolution of marriages, children being raised as Americans but frequently reminded that they are outsiders, the economic and political regimes that cause widespread displacement, and the sacrifices people will justify in the name of love and survival.
In Peru, Ana faces constant discrimination and disdain by her own people. As an indigenous, dark-skinned woman from the campo with no assets and the wrong accent, even her own husband’s family is ashamed of her. For Ana, the opportunity to live in New York as an undocumented immigrant is her only pathway to a dignified life where her family is safe from the violence of civil war. No matter how much she struggles to provide basic needs like food, medicine, and a home for her husband and children, it is this desperate hope for a better life, and no fathomable alternative, that drives her forward at any cost.
This novel puts into perspective the nuanced experience of immigrants in the US. Ironically, the fact that Americans have a tendency to group all immigrants into the same identity and social strata is precisely what Ana appreciates about being in New York. She still has no socioeconomic status, but the simple ability to blend in among the immigrant population, to be on equal footing with other Peruvians and Latinos, is a privilege she is deeply grateful for.
The story of the Falcóns is painfully human and inspirational at the same time, as Rivero captures a feeling of desperation and imperfect love in a genuinely empathetic way.
All her life, she’d been made to feel small and inconsequential. Whenever the feeling was too much to bear, she ran. Outside of Santa Clara, her skin, her hair, the way she spoke—all of it only exacerbated those feelings. She couldn’t help but fall into the trap. Lose that accent, lighten those strands. Marry up. Marry light. But marrying Lucho only reinforced how little the world thought of her. She was now the chola in the family.