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The Guardians

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  459 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
From American Book Award-winning author Ana Castillo comes a suspenseful, moving novel about a sensuous, smart, and fiercely independent woman. Eking out a living as a teacher’s aide in a small New Mexican border town, Tía Regina is also raising her teenage nephew, Gabo, a hardworking boy who has entered the country illegally and aspires to the priesthood. When Gabo’s fath ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Oct 04, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm teaching Castillo in one of my classes. She's coming to campus to speak, and she'll also come to my class to speak to my students. We also read a collection of her poems (I Ask the Impossible) and a story collection (Loverboys). She fills all of her work with strong, quirky, flawed characters. She explores sexuality, identity, relationships in surprisingly fun, funny and heart-wrenching ways.

If you'd like to know what life on the border is like for many people, read this book. The only flaw,
Jan 15, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The site description of this book was quite detailed, so I won't attempt to get into the narrative in this review, except to say that Castillo clearly has well-honed story-telling gifts.

The characters were well-developed, and their "voices" were unique and authentic. The author sprinkled Spanish words mixed with English in the characters' dialogue, and while this was occasionally annoying in the same way that it takes concentration and effort to understand a person with a heavy for
Dec 09, 2008 Kamala added it
Recommends it for: those who want to think/feel deeply about borderland reality
Recommended to Kamala by: Ana
I've taught this and other of Ana Castillo's texts and am currently preparing a paper in which the book figures prominantly. One major draw is the way The Guardians (and most of Ana's work) lives in the (borderlands) reality in which the story is set. The perspective, in this case dispersed between four main characters, is from within lived experience. To me, the Spanish is integral to that aspect of the text, and I love that about it. I appreciate codeswitching because,even if there is a distan ...more
Certainly compelling, but the narrative style (all first person, from the POV of numerous characters) was a bit jarring. It also forced me to rack my brain and even pick up a Spanish dictionary at one point, since I wanted to be absolutely certain that I was reading the frequently interspersed Spanish words correctly.

That, more than anything, was the reason I gave this three stars. While I appreciate what the author was trying to do, the assumption that readers would be able to skim over unknow
J.M. Evans
Jul 07, 2015 J.M. Evans rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful read; tender, funny, dead-on, sharp. It's all the things that make a book its own separate and valid world, a place that you fall into, where you meet new people that you will love and hate. Each time that I read this novel, I cry and scream, and in my mind, I rewrite the characters' fates over and over again. "Ay, mi muchacho!" And Regina and I light a candle for the soul departed, and wish that it could be different, and in the aftermath of knowing that nothing can be chang ...more
Mark Valentine
Mar 14, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Place makes this novel more than anything else. The texture, tones, and timbre of El Paso/Jaurez rises up as if it were its own character. The only other author who has been able to write like this in my mind is Willa Cather about the plains of Nebraska.

Basically, the plot follows the Lost Father motif. Everyone is searching for Rafa, Gabo's father, yet no one can find him.

Castillo's characters also have a depth. She casts them in guardian angel names (Regina, or Queen of Heaven; Miguel, or Mi
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dana Stabenow
The story of three generations of Mexican Americans living in a New Mexican border town rife with drugs and violence and anti-immigration fervor. This novel has a great voice, which makes me forgive the author's determination to hit every single button reflected in every single one of today's headlines. Regina in particular is a terrific character--this is a woman who never gives up. I could wish the entire novel had been hers alone to tell.
Jul 09, 2014 Leticia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Leticia by: Ana Castillo
The Guardians is a novel narrated in four parts, centering around life on the New Mexican border with Mexico. Regina, the central narrator, is responsible for her nephew Gabriel after his father Rafa leaves him with her to cross the border back to Mexico. Upon returning to cross back over, Rafa disappears, throwing Regina and Gabriel's lives into chaos. To find him, they seek the help of friends and enemies alike and are tested beyond the limitation of their values to try and find him.

Jan 23, 2009 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a heartbreaking account of Mexican familes (both illegal immigrants and third generation) who live in a border town. I loved the characters in this book although something about the writing was not compelling.
Saints and martyrs come together in this novel, looking for loved ones gone missing in their attempt to cross over into the United States and what they hoped could mean a better life.

Re-reading this book in 2015 made it appear oddly topical even to me as a European. The daily tragedies occuring at the US-Mexican border very rarely make it into the evening news over here, but illegal immigration and people being forced to flee their economically depressed homes in search of any kind of future ha
Cindy Griffin
The Guardians by Ana Costillo is a tragic story of a Mexican American family told by the four main characters: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. The lives of these four individuals are followed and narrated by the individuals themselves. Costillo interweaves the events in her book based on the differing points of view of these characters. Each person is searching for peace within themselves as they join together in the search for Gabo s missing father. [return][return]This is certainly not a boo ...more
Cindy Griffin
The Guardians by Ana Costillo is a tragic story of a Mexican American family told by the four main characters: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. The lives of these four individuals are followed and narrated by the individuals themselves. Costillo interweaves the events in her book based on the differing points of view of these characters. Each person is searching for peace within themselves as they join together in the search for Gabo s missing father. [return][return]This is certainly not a boo ...more
Reading Ana Castillo’s The Guardians turned out to be a difficult experience. She weaves four different Mexican-American voices around each other and attempts to bring cohesion to her story.

The four – Regina, a woman as determined to hold on to her past as she is to see her nephew have a future; Gabo, a sixteen year old boy fighting to cope with a lifetime of loss believing his only choices are the church or the gangs; Miguel, a disillusioned schoolteacher with a somewhat atypical divorce situa
Michael Bennett
I had never read any Ana Castillo, but I thought that the description of the book sounded intriguing, so I signed up for the early reviewer copy and was lucky enough to snag one. I pushed it to the front of my reading list so that I could review it quickly and stay in good stead with this excellent program (free books!). But I hesitated in writing the review because it is a hard book to review for me. I enjoyed it. It didn’t blow me away and it didn’t bore me. It is a good book, but I wouldn’t c ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Irisheyz77 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Irisheyz77 by: librarything
Shelves: review-posted
I had never read anything by Castillo when I picked up this book but based on the back of the book I thought that this would be a beautiful tale of love, loss and the coming together of various characters. After reading this story I wonder if the person who wrote up the blurb on the back even read the story. The main part of this short novel was to be about the search for the brother of one the main characters, Regina. Yet her brother is rarely mentioned and there never seems to be much in the w ...more
In this compelling exploration of illegal immigration and life on the Mexican-American border, Ann Castillo introduces the reader to four characters and their musings on their life and culture. The story, which develops in rather brief sections narrated alternately by each character, revolves around one family's search for a brother and father. The author brings the reader into this world of chaos and mistrust through the language and descriptions of everyday life on the border.[return][return]R ...more
Feb 27, 2009 Djrmel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
Whenever I read a story told in the form of characters getting their own chapters to tell their versions of overlapping events, I hold that story to a higher standard. Why? Because it's an easier way to tell a story. The author doesn't have to pin down the voice they're going to use. In the case of this book, that higher standard is exceeded. A fifty-something legal immigrant from Mexico has taken custody of her illegal immigrant sixteen year old nephew. Her brother, a man who has crossed back a ...more
Apr 04, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love Castillo's style. There's something so easy about it and yet compelling. In this book, she tells the story of life on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez through the voices of four different characters. In doing so, Castillo is able to develop her characters and their stories more deeply, particularly that of Regina. Regina is a powerhouse of a woman with an open and kind soul. Miguel, her love interest, at one point describes her as the kind of woman "who probably hustles steers ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Natasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexican
This is a very important, politically charged book for the 21st century. Castillo gives voice to a variety of people living in the border towns between Mexico and the US, and does not apologize for laying bare the iniquities and hardships faced by Mexicans who cross the border, whether temporarily or permanently.

Many of the issues that she includes are particularly pertinent to women: the rape of female gang-members, domestic abuse, the difficulty to earn a living without relying on a husband;
Jul 15, 2008 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, july
This story is told from the perspective of 4 individuals living in New Mexico: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. Regina is a widow in her 50’s. Her nephew Gabriel (Gabo) is currently living with her in order to attend school while his father, Rafa, works as a migrant worker. When Rafa mysteriously disappears during an illegal border crossing, Regina turns to a fellow co-worker, Miguel, for help. Milton, Miguel’s grandfather, takes an interest in mentoring Gabo and helping with the search for Raf ...more
Trish Remley
One of Eileen's book from a class at KU. Was an interesting story about life on the New Mexico/Texas/Mexico border and all that entails with family living on both sides of the border or crossing the border daily for work, etc.. Family members disappearing, priests, gangs, children, smuggling rings, love. The book was written with a smattering of Spanish and was generally easy to know the words based on sentence context. But I did like it as it added a genuine experience to the book.
Feb 17, 2014 Alexis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alexis by: NPR
Shelves: fiction
I checked out this book because it was on a list of desert-themed recommendations, and on that count it delivered. The desert is portrayed as a treacherous land, to be feared as much for the smugglers that stalk it as for the barren landscape itself. Here, the desert offers almost nothing and takes much; that reality is constantly pressing down on the book’s protagonist and her family. I’ve read very little about life on the US-Mexico border - the horrors of the border crossing, the back-breakin ...more
The Guardians is a brutal novel - brutal like a hard run or a long hike - you are challenged and you're glad you put in the effort. Her characters are flavorful and difficult. The scenery is relentless. This book makes you need to know more about "la frontera" and own your piece of what is there. As another reviewer notes, Spanish is used liberally throughout the novel, not all of it is immediately defined by context - it might be helpful to have a dictionary handy, thought it's not necessary to ...more
Mar 08, 2014 Erika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually saw Ana Castillo last month (I even got a picture!), and she read the audience parts of this book. Though the story is fictional, it does give insight to the feeling of waiting for a loved one to come to America by crossing the border. It also describes the dangers of traffickers, and the cruel deaths of some people who cross. In my opinion, it was very well written, and I would recommend this book to fans of Latino Literature.
Apr 28, 2008 Am rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fervent supporter of immigrant's rights, I appreciated the humanitarian message of the tale, and the fact that it was recounted without a heavy hand, or a pedantic hammer.

Castillo has a beautiful grasp of musicality in narration. The Guardians is an engaging poem for that reason.

That said, I had a hard time overcoming some of the stylistic hurdles, in particular the injection of Spanish vocab into narrations, sometimes in nearly every sentence, depending upon the narrator. My knowledge of S
Gretchen Paris
Feb 14, 2016 Gretchen Paris rated it liked it
This changed my thinking about the situation on the US-Mexican border somewhat and it was a worthwhile read because I have been reading books on the topics of love and or forgiveness. Maybe I'll know why some people have such forgiving hearts and others just can't be that way. Does it have to do with love or religion or some other inner quality???
Aug 29, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Guardians, Ana Castillo insightfully portrays life in the unusual triangle where Sunland Park, NM, El Paso, TX, and Ciudad Juarez come together. The border is in so many ways an artificial construction dividing people and cultures that one could imagine would blend fluidly and happily given political, legal, and law enforcement changes. Instead, families are divided and people are dying trying to cross back and forth. Layer on top of that the appalling drug and gang violence.

She accurat
Donna Kubiak
Jun 19, 2014 Donna Kubiak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another example of a scrappy woman trying to make the lives of others around her, as well as her own, just a little better. She is tenacious in her determination to save her nephew and in the end a little baby. It was a pretty bleak picture of the lives of people living in a town near the Mexican border, but it soared with the grit of this woman's efforts.
Samantha Allen
Oct 31, 2013 Samantha Allen rated it liked it
Shelves: for-class
Sped through this book for class. This novel is told by four narrators in first person, which I'm not always a fan of. I heard someone say recently that the point of a first person narrator is to mirror the experience of listening to someone talk. This was definitely true of this novel, which was good and bad at different points. It was great for humor and a sense of intimacy, but as it happens when you're listening to someone tell their story, so much of the time I wanted to tell the characters ...more
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