The Five Wounds: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A poignant novel set in New Mexico, The Five Wounds follows the lives of the Padilla family: 33 yr. old Amadeo, his pregnant 15 yr. old daughter, Angel, the family matriarch Yolanda, and Tio Tive, who has initiated Amadeo into the hermandad and casted him to portray Jesus in their reenactment of the crucifixion. Jobless, living with his mother, and estranged from his teenage daughter, Amadeo searches for purpose and perhaps redemption. His daughter Angel has shown up unannounced and eight months pregnant, and Yolanda returns home with a life-altering secret. Amadeo and Angel’s fragile relationship starts to mend as they navigate through daily life and welcome the newest member into the family. Kirstin Valdez Quade tells a captivating story about family, loss, redemption and the power of faith. I could not put this book down! You will laugh, cry, get angry, and want to hug these characters. Masterful storytelling! 

— Jen Steele

The story opens with Amadeo, a struggling, chronically unemployed man being chosen for the part of Jesus in the Penitente ritual during Holy Week in a small New Mexico town. It doesn’t go well. And over the course of the year, the Padilla family confronts one setback after another - matriarch Yolanda’s cancer, Amadeo’s daughter Angel’s struggles at the education center for teenage moms, and any number of slights over the years that have divided husband from wife, parent from child, and brother from sister. The slights and betrayals keep coming, leaving no time for Yolanda to reveal her diagnosis. The thing about Kirstin Valdez Quade’s debut novel, though, is that the characters are suffused with such grace (and the writing is so beautiful) that it’s impossible not to keep going, as I hoped that somehow the characters would break through the barriers not just of misunderstanding, but of everything stacked against them. Like maybe that window repair kit would actually work. It’s hard to conceive that The Five Wounds won’t be one of my favorite books of 2021.

— Daniel Goldin


Winner of the 2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Winner of the 2022 Rosenthal Family Foundation Award

Finalist for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction • Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel • Finalist for the 2022 Aspen Words Literary Prize • Finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction • Finalist for the 2022 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year • A Publishers Weekly and Library Journal Best Book of the Year in Fiction • A Kirkus Reviews Best Fictional Family of the Year • A Booklist Top Ten Book-Group Book of the Year and Top Twenty-First Century First Novels, So Far • A Goodreads Choice Awards Best Debut Novel Nominee

From an award-winning storyteller comes a stunning debut novel about a New Mexican family’s extraordinary year of love and sacrifice.

"Masterly…Quade has created a world bristling with compassion and humanity. The characters and the challenges they face are wholly realized and moving; their journeys span a wide spectrum of emotion and it is impossible not to root for [them]." —Alexandra Chang, New York Times Book Review

It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother’s house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby’s first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo’s mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel’s mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn’t speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda’s uncle and keeper of the family’s history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn’t think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as “legitimate masterpieces” (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

About the Author

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of Night at the Fiestas, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. The recipient of a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, she teaches at Princeton University and lives in New Jersey.

Praise For…

Masterly...Quade has created a world bristling with compassion and humanity. The characters and the challenges they face are wholly realized and moving; their journeys span a wide spectrum of emotion and it is impossible not to root for [them].
— Alexandra Chang - New York Times Book Review

[A] fine-grained domestic saga...Quade is masterful with [her characters'] fragility... [A] big-hearted novel.
— Mark Athitakis - USA Today

Gorgeously textured... [Quade's] sinewy sentences and emotional daring astound... Quade glides elegantly across a silken tightrope between comedy and tragedy, twists of fate that buoy her narrative to its resonant conclusion. The Five Wounds is destined to be one of this year's most celebrated works of fiction.

— Hamilton Cain - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Kirstin Valdez Quade's debut novel hooked me on page one...It's a wholehearted, radiant, and darkly funny exploration of family, faith, and forgiveness.
— Arianna Rebolini - Buzzfeed

A gorgeously written, epic tale of one Latinx family's via dolorosa.
— O Magazine

A masterful novel of family, faith, doubt. Quade's storytelling gift is her ability to capture the mysterious pulse of belief and ground them in visceral ritual on the page.
— The Millions

In this cruel and divisive era, Kirstin Valdez Quade has brought healing and regeneration with The Five Wounds. It is bracing and wise, and it breaks us in the best ways. Then builds us back up again. It should find many grateful readers.

— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Broken Angels

Kirstin Valdez Quade writes with exquisite precision about the fragility and resilience of the Padilla family…I loved The Five Wounds, which reminded me that growing pains are not confined to adolescence and that people can be newborn at any age. Even its most excruciating moments are charged with a luminous compassion.

— Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories

The characters in this engrossing novel are created in luminous and memorable detail. Just as the pacing is perfect, so too are the tact and care with which each scene is made. Kirstin Valdez Quade, by concentrating on the truth of small moments, has brought a whole world into focus.
— Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician

With deep empathy, fierce intelligence, and subtle wit, Kirstin Valdez Quade has crafted an indelible portrait of a family living in precarity. The characters in The Five Wounds are so vivid, their grasping efforts toward love and redemption so finely wrought, and each page full of such immaculate prose, that I read this novel with ever-increasing breathless urgency.

— Phil Klay, author of Missionaries

You hold in your hands a small, complete universe vibrating with joy and grief, humor and absurdity and delight. All the fabulous mess of humanity is, somehow, in these pages. The Five Wounds is bighearted, tender, wise, and shot through with moments of pure grace.

— C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

With beautifully layered relationships and an honest yet profoundly empathetic picture of a rural community?where the families proudly trace their roots back to the Spanish conquistadors while struggling with poverty and a deadly drug epidemic?this novel is a brilliant meditation on love and redemption. Perfectly rendered characters anchor a novel built around a fierce, flawed, and loving family.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Penetrating...The well-developed characters convey palpable emotion as Amadeo's failures as a father, partner, entrepreneur, and even as Jesus translate into fits of rage and frustration. Quade's rendering of a singular community is pitch perfect.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Profoundly affecting...Expertly crafted, this story of family and community introduces us to often needy characters for whom readers come to care deeply. Highly recommended.
— Library Journal (starred review)

Quade ably delivers a story that is nuanced and authentic without a whiff of melodrama...[A] generous tale of characters who understand the inevitability of fate but try to forge ahead anyway in the hope of breaking free.
— Booklist (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324020219
ISBN-10: 1324020210
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Pages: 448
Language: English