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Bless Me, Ultima

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,453 Ratings  ·  1,568 Reviews
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. 'We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,' says Antonio's mother. 'It is not the way of our people,' agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio's family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ult ...more
Paperback, 290 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1972)
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Apr 25, 2007 LARRY rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ficcion
As posted in []:

As a Hispanic, I cannot believe that I hadn't read *Bless Me, Ultima* earlier. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. Anaya is a superb storyteller.

As it is in the Hispanic culture, elders are supposed to be taken care of whether or not they are family. So, in comes Ultima, an elderly curandera. A curandera is a faith healer, not a witch. However, some people may not see the difference between the two. The proper and respectful term to Ul
Sep 12, 2008 S rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Being a native of New Mexico, I always heard references to this book growing up. I saw it in libraries, on recommended reading lists but never picked it up. I finally decided to read it after being transplanted to CA and was a little homesick and wanted to read something that would bring me closer to home. This is one of the books I reread every now and then because it brings my own childhood closer to me and reminds me of the sense of self in a small community like the one in Bless Me Ultima.
How do I begin writing a review for this book? I guess I'll start with a story of how I came to read "Bless Me Ultima" and why I ended up reading it again in recent considerations (2013).

I read "Bless Me Ultima" for the first time in my AP Literature and Composition class. My teacher at the time had a list of books we could choose to do reports on and this was one of the choices that jumped out at me. It also surprised me that it was banned from many curriculum in different schools and districts
Sep 30, 2010 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks-a-z
Post listen review

If you like really poetic and flowery language to describe the most mundane of details then this is the book for you. This book has murder, revenge, redemption, witchcraft and school bullies in it yet it was able to pretty much bore me the entire time.

Now I know that some people really enjoy a poetic book and I think that in some stories it works very well but in my opinion this is not one of them.

The story centers around a boy named Antonio who is struggling with faith and fa
Aug 20, 2011 Rusty rated it really liked it
This is a delightful story written by a Mexican-American who is widely read, Rudolfo Anaya. The book won the Premio Quinto Sol, national Chicano literary award. It is the story of six-year-old Antonio Marez who bonds with Ultima, a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under the guidance of this wise woman, Antonio examines family ties that bind him and tear him apart and discovers himself in the magical past.

Antonio is strongly influenced by the church, a curandera named Ultima, witch
Apr 28, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, banned-book
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

This is a hard review to write. I read Bless Me, Ultima because it is frequently challenged, often banned, sometimes even burned. I read it because it has been banished from Tucson classrooms and school libraries. I read it because I live in a majority Mexican-American community in a part of Arizona that until relatively recently was still part of the state of Sonora, Mexico. And I read it because many readers have praised it.

Anaya wrote his novel in 1972. Copies were co
Ed Pattison
Mar 02, 2008 Ed Pattison rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 11, 2016 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, favorites
Bless Me, Ultima is set in a small village on the edge of the plains (the llano) of New Mexico during the 1940s. It is a coming of age novel from the Hispanic perspective. Six year old Antonio must grapple with many conflicts as he strives to grow into a man in a multi-faith, multi-cultural setting.

Antonio has been born into a Catholic family and looks forward to his first Communion, but he has many questions about his natal faith. Paganism is native to this area of the Southwest and Antonio fin
Nov 09, 2007 Amy rated it it was ok
Bless Me, Ultima is the story of a young boy’s coming-of-age within a cultural tapestry that includes Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences, and in which many of the major cultural forces conflict with one another. The young boy, Antonio Márez, must navigate a number of conflicts—between farmers and cowboys, Spanish and indigenous peoples, and English-speaking and Spanish-speaking peoples—that collectively structured the cultural life in rural New Mexico during the 1940s. The novel is ...more
Mar 10, 2008 L.h. rated it really liked it
"From my mother I had learned that man is of the earth, that his clay feet are part of the ground that nourishes him, and that this is the inextricable mixture that gives man his measure of safety and security. Because man plants in the earth he believes in the miracle of birth, and he provides a home for his family, and he builds a church to preserve his faith and the soul that is bound to his flesh, his clay. But from my father and Ultima I had learned that the greater immortality is in the fr ...more
Sep 15, 2011 Joseph rated it it was amazing
An encounter with a good book is occasionally as mystical as the story within it. As I prepared to move to New Mexico, several people told me I had to read Bless Me, Ultima. I had never heard of it.

Then, during the Great Yard Sale, it happened. I spread my books out over several tables and crates, saying goodbye to hundreds of comrades who had been with me for so long. And there, on the top of a box that I could have sworn were all cookbooks I was letting go of, I saw Rudolfo Anaya's novel.

This novel is the current One Book, One Boulder, so at first I thought I was reading it for class. Then, once I reminded myself for the fourth time that I did not have to read the book if I didn’t want to combined with a stimulating conversation I had with a co-worker, I was inspired to stick with it, and was rewarded for doing so in the end. One of those books that just kept getting better, plus Anaya is an excellent writer. This book was also banned by a high school in CO, prompting a sit-in o ...more
Sep 15, 2009 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read “Bless me, Utltima” as part of the Big Read going on in my city. As a naturalist, I enjoyed the natural thread that runs through the book.

The novel's story line takes place in New Mexico just after World War II and follows the maturation of grade-schooler Antonio, the youngest son in the Márez family. As Tony ages, he witnesses several tragic events and is forced to deal with complicated moral issues. He also must choose between the agrarian, devout heritage of his mother and the largely
Sep 10, 2007 Kecia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any one who has ever questioned their faith
Wow! What a stunningly beautiful book! I hope to reread this someday just for the descriptions of the natural world. Ultima may now be one of my most favorite fictional characters...oh and how I wish I knew more about her! In many ways she reminded me of my own grandmother. I love the way she listened to the earth and I loved her for her quiet strength.

Antonio reminded me so much of myself and the questions I began asking a young age, the questions I still ask. I loved Antonio for his awe in th
Bark's Book Nonsense
This is a beautifully written coming of age story that I listened to as an unabridged audiobook. I don’t typically seek out this sort of book but the blurbage from the SYNC program caught my eye last summer and, well, it was free and I'm all about the free.

I regret reading many a book but my only regret here is that it took me a full year to actually take the time to listen to Bless Me, Ultima. It tells the story of a young boy named Antonio (Tony) whose family takes in an elder named Ultima, as
May 06, 2012 Jason added it
Rudolpho Anaya’s, Bless Me, Ultima, is considered a classic of Chicano literature. The book is set in New Mexico in the 1940’s during World War II. The story is told from the point of view of a six-year-old boy. The book is a coming of age story of Antonio, as he struggles with identity issues, direction for the future, and tragedies in his life. Tony is torn between two worlds – the world of his mother and the world of his father. His mother wants him to grow up and be an educated priest – some ...more
LonewolfMX Luna
Jul 25, 2008 LonewolfMX Luna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who are interested in Raza Shamanism
Recommended to LonewolfMX by: My brother Carlos
Another great Chicano story by Rodolfo Anaya.

It is about the life of Antonio Marez who lives in Nuevo Mexico who is divided between the wishes of his father who an adventurous spirit with broken hopes and dreams of traveling to California, while his mother coming from a conservative religious farming background hopes that Antonio becomes a priest.

But Antonio also has these hopes, but it would change when his mother's godmother Ultima moves in with them she is a curandera with spritual powers th
May 03, 2013 Peggy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin-america
This book will make the synapses in your brains tingle. It is powerfully imaginative, lyrical, and has unforgettable characters. The episodes contained within the plot are exciting and suspenseful. This coming of age story is so rich and beautiful that it makes me feel sorry for today's children, whose worlds are not nearly as vivid, and whose lives appear shallow by comparison.

"When she came the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum o
Dec 30, 2012 Mmars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be one of those books where the ending was stronger than the beginning. But it could also be argued that the narrator, Tony matured and thus the depth of his storytelling developed as well.

A quick trip to New Mexico prompted me to dust-off this shelf sitter. Glad I had it on hand. There's nothing like being able to mesh your reading with your vacation. Can't say I experienced Tony's culture, but I was certainly able to place myself in the setting and love that child character mo
Robert Beveridge
Dec 06, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it did not like it
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima (Tonatiuh, 1972)

Bless Me, Ultimahas gotten itself a lot of attention over the past decade or so. It seems like every time the book makes it onto a school reading list, someone, somewhere, challenges it. (It's ironic that the book also landed on Laura Bush's list of the ten best novels for people of all ages, since the ones who challenge books are oftentimes the same ones who follow mindless, slavish devotion to the Bush regime.) That's the sort of thing that attra
I first read this novel when in high school and remember being swept into the magical world of Antonio, a young boy whose life is forever by curandera Ultima. When reading this, I can almost imagine sitting in front of a camp fire while the tale is being told to me. Sadly, I didn't like it as much this time as I did as a 14 year-old. For one thing, the protagonist feels just too old. He speaks almost too wisely for a 9 year-old. Perhaps a way to look at it is as a man telling the story of his ch ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Tracy rated it did not like it
This was the "Big Read" this year? The language was filled with the "F" word in both English and Spanish. The brother visited the whore house on a regular basis. God had no real power, but the power to bring guilt and fear. He couldn't even bring as much comfort as a "golden carp" in a river. BUT the "healer" who used voodoo and dark magic, could perform miracles with her "good magic". I cringe to think that some schools across the nations used this as reading in their curriculum. Who chooses th ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: school-reads
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

My only complaint here was the phrases in Spanish throughout this book, which I didn't like too much, simply because I'm not fluent at all. [Well, I've taken 1.75 years of it in school, which doesn't help a lot because we only learn odd phrases and knowledge seems to disappear outside of the classroom[at least for me sometimes]. I asked someone what two of the frequent phrases meant and they were both swear words so... Oh yeah, be cautioned for younger audiences, there is
Jan 20, 2014 Alysia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Every summer (since I started blogging) I go to Audiobooksync to download free audiobooks. Most of the audiobooks are classics like this one. I have to say that I never heard of it and I was surprised to find an audiobook of an author of color on their list last year. Yes, it has taken me almost a year to get to this one.
Bless Me, Ultima is the story of 6 year old Tony told through by his older self. The book starts off when Ultima his maternal grandmother comes to live with him and his family.
Sherri F.
Audio version: 3+ stars Considering it's old (early 70's) & not my typical reading interest, 3+ stars is actually a pretty good rating. It came across like old Mexican folktale-ish (but set in New Mexico) & was heavy, at least toward end, in religion and told from Antonio's, a 6 yr old boy, POV (but he does age some throughout). He is the youngest of 6 kids with the 3 oldest brothers starting out being away in the war (guessing Vietnam but it really doesn't make it clear if it was actual ...more
Briza Ramirez
Oct 09, 2015 Briza Ramirez rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2014 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics
I have struggled to put into words my feelings on this book. Before reading it I thought I would love it - I had heard great things about it and the content sounded interesting. However, I overall simply was not taken by it. Maybe my 1-star rating should really be a 2 because the prose is beautiful and well written. However, I think there are major flaws that I cannot seem to come to terms with. I struggled to connect to the characters (this may be simply a cultural difference I didn't manage to ...more
May 08, 2014 Vocisconnesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un romanzo molto riflessivo, pieno di azione ma anche di intuizione. E' ambientato in un villaggio del New Mexico. Antonio è un ragazzino che si troverà ad assistere a terribili vicende e Ultima, che lo guiderà, è una Curandera, depositaria di una cultura in pericolo.
In pericolo come l'umanità, quando perde buon senso e saggezza, quando perde la capacità di ringraziare ciò di cui beneficia e lo distrugge. La vera spiritualità, in grado di condurre le anime verso la consapevolezza e "il bene com
Mar 14, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it
Readers who are not careful will make negative assumptions about this book. This is why I know the book had become controversial.

If I may boldly claim that the religion found in this book is based on the use of religious syncretism, which is adapted through colonial and indigenous practices.

Religious syncretism is quite common practice among various indigenous cultures and should be not be discounted as lesser or greater than. This book was pointing out the significance of the other not widely
Dec 16, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorite books. I hadn't read it in a long time. I'm so glad I read it again. I decided to read it in honor of going to Durango for Thanksgiving, because a lot of why I love this book is because of some of my experience growing up in Durango. Most of my friends in high school, when I first read the book, were Catholic. Most were not really what I would call practicing, but by the end of my senior year, one of my friends had become more "active". Do that use that term i ...more
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Class of 2015: Bless Me Ultima 2 5 Apr 23, 2015 07:12AM  
two languages 1 7 May 05, 2014 09:49AM  
I'm reading it in it good? 12 42 Apr 09, 2014 02:22PM  
Suspended Disbelief 1 3 Mar 27, 2014 02:35PM  
Don't read it!!! 21 145 Oct 09, 2013 11:02AM  
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Rudolfo Anaya lives and breathes the landscape of the Southwest. It is a powerful force, full of magic and myth, integral to his writings. Anaya, however, is a native Hispanic fascinated by cultural crossings unique to the Southwest, a combination of oldSpain and New Spain, of Mexico with Mesoamerica and the anglicizing forces of the twentieth century. Rudolfo Anaya is widely acclaimed as the foun ...more
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“It is because good is always stronger than evil. Always remember that, Antonio. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the powers of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant.” 39 likes
“I made strength from everything that had happened to me, so that in the end even the final tragedy could not defeat me. And that is what Ultima tried to teach me, that the tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart. --Antonio” 34 likes
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