41 pages 1 hour read

Elizabeth Acevedo

Family Lore

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Symbols & Motifs


In Family Lore, limes are a symbol of family unity—supporting the themes of The Limitations of Foreknowledge and The Constraint of Duty. As limes were initially imported to America by Christopher Columbus, whose conquests led to racial violence, the fruit bears residual pain and resilience—due to its eventual adoption into various cuisine. For the Marte family, limes are an integral part of their lives, as their home in the Dominican Republic had “a row of lime trees that grew tall and spindly, protecting their land from those ‘nosy, nobody neighbors’” (34). Though the family home is unattended for years, the trees persist. Like their importation, limes bridge emigrated family members and their cultural history through Yadi’s inheritance of taste from the deceased Mamá Silvia.


Dreams are a motif that supports The Limitations of Foreknowledge. For Flor, dreams allow her to predict deaths and other events: “[…] she’d learned to compartmentalize the world of the living and the world of the Before and After […] She was unclear whether she was the traveler or the destination, so maybe the Before and After visited her” (86). However, this gift is capricious, sometimes only offering hints at future events.