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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  404 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
25th Anniversary Edition, with a new Afterword by the author. Rudolfo Anaya's personal journey to Tortuga began one desert-hot day when, as an adolescent, he and some friends were swimming in irrigation ditches. He dove in, sustaining an injury that put him in the hospital for an arduous period of time. Tortuga is set in a hospital for crippled children and is based on Ana ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by University of New Mexico Press (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

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Martha Alami
Oct 08, 2016 Martha Alami rated it liked it
I am only giving this book 3 stars instead of 2 because some of the writing style and prose was beautiful. Otherwise it would have been 2 stars. I did not really enjoy the book. The story was too dark and the back and forth between dreams and reality were confusing to me. Some of the dreams were more like nonsensical ranting rather than a meaningful message. I also did not enjoy the crude banter between the patients or the crude way the hospital staff at times interacted. I could say a lot more ...more
Jim Stevens
May 15, 2013 Jim Stevens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anaya
At first the subject actually made me a little uncomfortable! Soon, however, I was truly drawn in to the incredible world the author has created for these characters
Jan 30, 2017 Kim rated it liked it
I loved the characters and the hospital and loved reading the parts about them - especially the description of what now seems archaic medical practices. The detours into "magical realism" didn't work for me for the most part.
May 28, 2017 Caroline rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story. A paralyzed boy with a broken back (Tortuga) comes to a crippled children's hospital for the terminally ill. He heals physically, mentally and emotionally during his stay. He learns to love and to be accepting. The language and imagery are lovely.
Jun 03, 2017 Kirk rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I loved Bless Me Ultima, which I read many years ago. I found this book very slow going, but it may have been not the right time to read it.
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
Tortuga is an autobiographical novel that follows a teenage boy through his recovery from a severe spinal injury that left him partially paralyzed. He enters a chidren's hospital and is immersed in a strange world full of twisted, crippled bodies, each one struggling through the aftermath of disease or injury. He meets some mysterious people early on who draw him into a mystical dreamland where he is Tortuga, a turtle-man, whose spiritual path is of vital importance not just to him but to his ne ...more
Rosemary Dreyer
Oct 27, 2015 Rosemary Dreyer rated it really liked it
Fascinating story and part allegory about the journey of healing. A young man is injured in some type of accident and is sent to a sanitarium for surgery and recovery. Part poetry, dreams, reverie, and novel, this book weaves the story through the eyes of this young man, nicknamed "Tortuga," the name of the "Turtle Mountain" that he can see from his window. The cast of characters is both vivid and heartbreaking, with the voice of wisdom coming through a severely affected polio patient. Bitterswe ...more
Rudolfo Anaya used an incident from his own youth to write this haunting story of love and redemption. Tortuga is a young boy in a upper body cast and a magical mountain near the hospital for crippled children where he has gone to recover. There he discovers the long road to recovery. How to deal with the being crippled. And the many levels and types of love. This love adds to his healing in a magical way. Lots of symbolism and Mexican-American cultural references. A magical book and a magical r ...more
Sep 18, 2012 D.K. rated it it was amazing
I found this book disturbing and captivating all at the same time.
One of Anaya's true gifts is to be able to tell the story from the age point of view of his narrator. He seems to be able to retrieve every emotion from that time, and present them without bias.
This book was a testament to the body being far easier to heal than the indelible soul, and innocently begs the question, " are there times when we just shouldn't try"?
Oct 03, 2016 1vpee rated it it was amazing
The book was extremely interesting. The part about hearing Solomon's stories is a bit confusing because it doesn't state specifically who can actually hear Solomon, and can he actually talk or is he just reading and communicating in a magical kind of way. Overall,the emotion and humor to it all is intriguing. The patients there might not ever get better and well although they are completely living differently, they still live and think like any other teenager.
Clark Hulse
Apr 01, 2016 Clark Hulse rated it it was amazing
Probably Anaya's finest book. Tortuga is less well known than his first book, Bless Me Ultimate. But it is more deeply personal than either that book or The Heart of Aztlan, which came second. Tortuga is lyrical, metaphysical, painful, spiritual, and realistic. These are the elements of a great work.
Elena Varipatis
Feb 19, 2016 Elena Varipatis rated it really liked it
3.5 stars: parts of this book I really enjoyed. I could appreciate the mysticism and magical realism that gave the book it's pulse, but in the end that genre really doesn't do much for me and at times left me very confused.
Feb 14, 2016 Britta marked it as shelved  ·  review of another edition
I'm "getting stuck" in a lot of books. I think I need something light, and fairly fast-paced right now. I'm having trouble staying focused as I read, and this one really needs that. May come back to it.
Oct 17, 2016 Cindy rated it it was ok
Really preferred Anaya's Alburquerque to this....just a bit too mystical/mythical for me. The setting in a permanently disabled children's institution is grim, altho the author prevails with a message of love & hope.
Nancy Bovee
Jan 02, 2011 Nancy Bovee rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read. A very thoughtful look at a young boys struggle with recovery from serious injury with his thoughts and growth into a spiritual side of recovery. Love this authors style of writing and insight into the union of all at a higher level.
Rose Elizabeth Balboa
Loved it

Highly recommended to those who are struggling, or who have struggled through life. Profound questions are raised about the reasons for our lives being as they are. Thought provoking and intense. Mr. Anaya is incredible.
Gsandoval2 sandoval
Oct 05, 2011 Gsandoval2 sandoval rated it really liked it
Great characters, real life.
Perlinda Shelton
Feb 03, 2011 Perlinda Shelton rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. There was the mysticism that Anaya loves to include in his books.
Boreal Mum
Mar 11, 2014 Boreal Mum rated it it was amazing
I am 1/2 way through , love it as much as all the other books .It is also coming into my dreams . so beautiful
Bethany Williams
Sep 28, 2016 Bethany Williams rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully moving book. I didn't want to put it down, and even when I did, I still felt it with me. Wonderful, so encompassing.
Mar 06, 2016 Sandra rated it liked it
A time in an adolescent center for an injured 16 year old-- about overcoming limitations.
Dec 26, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
Good book on handicapped, pain and suffering.
Feb 04, 2017 Maria rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it!
May 09, 2012 Deborah rated it it was amazing
Poignant...really makes you think. This book makes you cry and laugh in the same paragraph. Descriptive...helps you appreciate all of your blessings...the strength of the tortuga!
Richard Kravitz
Jul 31, 2016 Richard Kravitz rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Funny and sad; very real. Loaned it to a student in Prescott and don't remember if I ever got it back.
May 21, 2008 Nicole rated it it was ok
This book is still on my shelf- a few years ago I started it and could not finish it. The story and characters were boring and hard to get into- unlike the other Anaya books I've read.
Mar 20, 2008 Connie rated it it was amazing
Beautiful soulful book which writes of hope and spirit found in the midst of sickness and despair. A metaphorical account of beauty found in the desert.
Roseanne Baca
May 30, 2008 Marcy8 rated it really liked it
Mystical coming of age story of a physically challenged boy in New Mexico. Sometimes salvation has the janitor's face.
Ruby Tovar
Ruby Tovar rated it it was amazing
Jul 13, 2014
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Around the Year i...: Tortuga, by Rudolfo Anaya 1 10 Jan 15, 2017 05:25PM  
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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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