The House of Six Doors: An Autobiographical Novelby Patricia Selbert
Eric Hoffer Award 1st Runner Up General Fiction 2011
Serena, at thirteen, leaves her home on the colorful Caribbean island of Cura�ao and her beloved grandmother, Oma, when her ambitious, impulsive, and emotionally unstable mother takes her and her sister to the United States in pursuit of
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The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards WINNER OF MULTICULTURAL FICTION
Eric Hoffer Award 1st Runner Up General Fiction 2011
Serena, at thirteen, leaves her home on the colorful Caribbean island of Cura�ao and her beloved grandmother, Oma, when her ambitious, impulsive, and emotionally unstable mother takes her and her sister to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. They drive from Miami to Hollywood, where their luck runs out and a 1963 Ford Galaxie becomes their first American home. Compelling and exotic, the narrative weaves together the hard realities of 1970s Hollywood and memories of an innocent past. The story is rich and tangy, filled with images from around the world. The timeless wisdom Serena�s grandmother imparted to her becomes the compass by which Serena navigates the unscrupulous world she confronts. Filled with brilliant and visceral characters from multiple countries that come to life and reveal themselves and their cultures, The House of Six Doors gives the reader an intimate look at the complexities of an immigrant�s journey and a young girl�s coming of age in a multicultural Los Angeles. A pageturner, this story is so distinct and intimate that it becomes universal and leaves the reader with profound insights.
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Meet the Author
PATRICIA SELBERT was raised on the Dutch Caribbean island of Cura�ao, speaking four languages. She immigrated to California at age 13, later representing the Netherlands Antilles in equestrian events at the World Championships and the Pan American Games.
Her work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines. Currently, she�s promoting her novel, The House of Six Doors, which launches on February 1, 2011. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband, two sons, and three dogs.
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The House of Six Doors is filled with wisdom and honesty. The passages when Serena remembers Curacao are winsome, woeful and wonderful at the same time. The character of Mama is difficult to identify with, however, I did find myself feeling for her, which is the mark of a solid character, and a victory for an author. Even the evilest of villains contain some trace of humanity in them, that is what makes their evilness so compelling, because we can identify with them in some way, even if we are ashamed to admit it. Sometimes our revulsion with a character is more telling about our own shortcomings than a character that we easily identify with. I loved what this book did for the new nation of Curacao. It painted a romantic portrait of a relatively unknown island that definitely sparked my interest in the culture. I hope to see more from Selbert in the future. I hope the insights that I gained from reading this novel can be shared by all.
For eleven years, ever since I came--by accident--to live in Curaçao, I've been looking for books about this island's rich history and people. And for eleven years I found nothing. There's plenty in Dutch or Papiamentu, neither of which I read, and even if I did, most of it is non-fiction, drab and clinical, that doesn't come close to doing this magical, surreal place justice. And then I found Patricia Selbert's House of Six Doors. The book has flaws--it is, after all, a debut novel--but richness of setting isn't one of them. Neither is emotional charge, which comes across clear and sharp, without drama, without falling into maudlin o-woe-is-me. I teared up twice, the second time uncontrollably (yeah, near the end). But I laughed, too. And I learned so much about this place I've called home for over a decade. Patricia's knack for narrative touches a nerve at the same time ubiquitous in today's world and, strangely, seldom mentioned: the multicultural personality. In our current, globalized, reality, multiculturality is the new normal--mixed-race families, migration, children growing up in cultures diametrically different than their parents', the cultural exchange that border-breaching technology makes possible. And yet we continue to focus on "race"--skin color, place of birth--to define each other, and ourselves. And we continue to ignore the impact of culture--especially multiculture. Serena, the book's protagonist and narrator, is light-skinned, which, in skin-color-über-sensitive Curaçao, awards her a special place in society. She's the one child that gets taken to visit her father's family on Sundays--but this family, Netherlands-born Dutch, reject her with cruel pettiness. Her mother, see, comes from a mixed-race family: Arawak native, black slave, Portuguese. Serena's life revolves around Oma, her maternal grandmother: a tall, sculptural black woman with eyes that shine like a meteor shower in the night sky. When Serena's mother takes her and her sister to the US, in search of the American Dream, it's Oma that Serena misses above all. She finds little to like in this new country, so hostile to the three women--but it is here, amidst tragedy, poverty, and heartbreak, that she discovers not only herself, but the depth and breadth of her cultural--multicultural--roots. This is a story that will resonate with every immigrant, whether from Curaçao or Timbuktu. It has everything: a mother-daughter relationship that crackles with tension and betrayal, a yearning for what was--the childhood we've all lost, a discovery of what it means to grow up and let go, and--perhaps above all--the realization that nothing, and no one, we love is ever truly lost. It's a beautiful, beautiful book.