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In the two weeks preceding Christmas, Iliana has premonitions that all is not well at home as she prepares to leave college and return to her Dominican family in New York City. There, her parents are teetering on the edge of religious extremism. Knee-length skirts, clip-on earrings, and—God forbid—lipstick are for them tokens of an unspeakable evil, examples of how “the devil walketh about seeking whom he may devour,” so she purposefully neglects these items while she packs. Her father used to compare Manhattan to Sodom and Gomorrah, but the kind of things that await her at home are hardly better. Iliana’s sister Marina is suicidal; another sister, Rebecca, is abused by her husband; a third, Beatriz, has disappeared. This is the setting for Loida Maritza Perez’s first novel, Geographies of Home, a compelling look at a place where being called a flat-nosed, wide-lipped nigger is commonplace and the inability to speak English leads to discrimination and poverty. Perez confronts issues of race, class, domestic violence, and rape, and portrays the unreserved strength and courage that allows her bicultural immigrants to face inevitable hardships with dignity. At 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 429-9272. (Ayesha Morris)