Under the Feet of Jesus
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Under the Feet of Jesus

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  902 ratings  ·  80 reviews
With the same audacity with which John Steinbeck wrote about migrant worker conditions in The Grapes of Wrath and T.C. Boyle in The Tortilla Curtain, Viramontes (The Moths and Other Stories) presents a moving and powerful vision of the lives of the men, women, and children who endure a second-class existence and labor under dangerous conditions in California's fields. This...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Plume (first published April 1st 1995)
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Dusty
Dec 27, 2008 Dusty rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dusty by: Kelsey Hixenbaugh
Shelves: read-in-2008
I finished Under the Feet of Jesus just a few minutes ago. And already I am forgetting bits and pieces of the plot. But, really, this book's strength is not its plot. Where Viramontes excels is in her creation of stunning images -- the orange peel that Estrella's father slices for her with his fingernail, the unexpected downpour of pesticide that sheets Alejo while he's in a tree, the semen that slides down Perfecto's leg and evaporates when it hits a hot stone, etc. An interesting if not entire...more
Melissa
If you aren't careful you might miss it. If you try to read it fast because it appears to be an easy read you'll do yourself a disservice. If you take the time to roll the lines around in your mouth, to savour them, you'll love this. Perfecto's hands, the peach, maggots and dirt...

If your a fan of Viramontes' short stories you'll not be disappointed in this read. Nothing is lost in the longer format... images are still uncomfortable, characters so close to the surface, line after line beg for a...more
Erasmo Guerra
I bought this book while attending the conference "HACIENDO CAMINOS: Mapping the Futures of U.S. Latina/o Literature."

Set against a lush and harsh landscape of the back-breaking work in the "piscas," or picking fields, and the stubborn poverty the hard labor fails to lift, this is a vivid look at the working poor reminiscent of the novel "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. Still, "Under the Feet of Jesus" has a lyrical voice all its own.

Though told from a number of points of view within a...more
Brigitte
Beautiful book on a very current event since the novel is about a family of Mexican migrant workers's hardship. Nothing melodramatic here, just a very moving story.
Kelly
Kelly Garwood
Viramontes, H. M. (1995). Under the feet of Jesus. New York, NY: Dutton.
Genre: Multicultural
Award(s): N/A
Format: book
Selection process:
Hunter, J. W. (Ed.). (2010). Helena Maria Viramontes (1954-). In Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. 285 (pp. 227-229). Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning. Retrieved from http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/...

Review:
“Don’t run scared. You stay there and look them in the eye. Don’t let them make you feel you did a crime for picking the vegetables t...more
Tawny
Author: Helena Maria Viramontes
Title: Under the Feet of Jesus
Genre: coming-of-age novel
Publication Info: Penguin Group, New York, 1995
Recommended Age: 15 and older

Plot Summary: Thirteen-year-old Estrella is the oldest of the children in her family. She is the only one capable of helping her mother support everyone by working in the fields of California. They were abandoned by their father years before, so their mother got remarried, unfortunately to a man 40 years older and nearly too old to wor...more
Karen
This book (novella, actually) appeals on many levels. First, it is the story of a family of Chicano migrant workers in California, and the hardships they must endure. Secondly, it is a coming-of-age story about Estrella, oldest daughter, who is a young girl of 13, and who learns about what it is like to face adult life and to rely upon oneself. There is also a powerful backstory about Perfecto, the husband, his life, and the hard decisions he must make. Beautifully written (Veramontes has writte...more
Angie
Rating: 3.5

I wasn't expecting much from this novella but as I continued to read I fell in love with Viramontes' poetic descriptions! They were so beautiful! My favorite aspect (because I'm a romantic) was the blossoming love between Alejo and Estrella. Even though we don't quite get a resolution of their love or really, much of anything else, the ending was true to nature and bittersweet.

Also, Estrella is a wonderful character who defies age in this novel. She definitely takes that role of the o...more
Kara
My first (harried) attempt at reading this book didn't permit me to enjoy the stark humanness of Viramontes' characters and her cinematic prose. This is a beautiful love story, not just between the teenage romance between Estrella and Alejo, but of the love of family and community. The novel follows a family of migrant workers, Estrella's mother Petra and her much-older lover Perfecto, while capturing the daily hardships and humanity of the oft-invisible hands that bring vegetables and fruit to...more
Rochelle Comeaux
Nov 23, 2007 Rochelle Comeaux rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes reading Chicano literature
This book was a nice blend between Steinbeck's Clalifonia farming imagery and Cisneros' brilliant insight into the lives of Mexican-Americans and immigrants. The book includes a lot of untranslated Spanish which in my opinion added a great amount of character and was worth the confusion it sometimes created. I was not incredibly impressed by the plot development, but the characters were stunning and I felt like Viramontez captured the plight of some immigrants well. A good easy-read if you're in...more
Joel
Ethereal and dreamlike, Under the Feet of Jesus slides its story across your face like gossamer--a swish of love here, a whisper of coming-of-age there, a murmur of tragedy and broken dreams, a flutter of hope. Viramontes is not particularly interested in driving forward a story; she's interested in capturing a mood, a feeling, a piece of life that often slips by the rest of the world as they look the other way. She writes with empathy, she writes with heartbreak, but most of all she writes with...more
Susan
This is a powerful book, in part because it's told in such a simple and straightforward manner that the force comes from the situations and incidents being described. The book is the story of part of a summer in the life of Estrella, the eldest daughter in a migrant farm-working family, and her family and friends. At times, Viramonte's voice is almost lyrical; but what really makes the book sing is the characters, as they deal with what life throws at them.
Maythee
With its overripe (pun intended) language, this novel gives a powerful insight into the lives of migrant workers (may of whom are born here, but receive none of the "rights" most of us take for granted) while also painting a rich picture of a young woman coming of age. Estrella is a well developed, thoughtful character whose actions live up to her name as she comes to embody brilliance.
Erin
Well, it is not the most subtle of books. The symbolism (tar pit, barn, peaches, got it) is pretty straightforward and the names hit you over the head (Star, Perfecto, got it) are pretty straightforward, too. But it was a lovely read, and it picks up after part two. I may teach this with Steinbeck. Hello political books.
Davidm
This novel served as the prose analysis selection for this year's Advanced Placement Literature exam. . .but beyond that it is worth the read--poetically written, grippingly told, you follow a young girl, child of migrant workers, as she attempts to understand her adult world.
Deranged Pegasus
An intriguing book, bringing to the fore the terrible lives led by immigrants as they worked in the fields, slaved in them. The fears they held and what little they had that was truly theirs.
Deja
Gorgeous imagery & language in many places; evocative, particularly in depicting poverty & the struggles of immigrants who are trying to establish a home, but can also be slow in parts.
Jessica
Vivid. I really enjoyed this book. The end is very ambiguous, though, which frustrates some people - although I felt like it was at least vaguely evident what the girl was going to do.
Sandy
Excellent... stick with it. Re-read it. So much on each page to catch and understand.
Alexi
SO slow going tho! My goodness!
Crystal
I will admit when I first picked this book up, I didn't like it. I found the prose to be extremely confusing, especially with the dialogue blending in as actual sentences. But I think part of the problem with that was I picked it up for a class and had no real understanding of the background information that inspired this book to be created. I think it's extremely important to familiarize yourself about the issue of migrant workers and the protests during the '60s & '70s. I should clarify th...more
Scribbler King
UNDER THE FEET OF JESUS was ok. My main problem with it was that there wasn't much of a resolution. In fact, if you think about it, the family's life is falling apart around them just as the book ends. One person leaves, another person (presumably) dies, there are still lots of children to feed and there's even less money now to feed them with--and yet Estrella is standing on the roof feeling hopeful. Pray, what does she have to feel hopeful about? Heaven? Then why doesn't she step off the roof?...more
Rebecca
My rating is more like 2 and a half stars. I really wanted to like this book -- I had heard the author read a piece of nonfiction at last year's AWP, and it was breathtaking. I found her fiction to be less so.

This reads like an author's first novel (it may be for Viramontes, I'm not sure). This seems more to me like a short story that was stretched to be not-quite novel length. The author could have cut the first half for my taste. Also, there were far too many named characters in the beginning,...more
Ryan Vaughan
I don't doubt that this an accurate depiction of the lives of a family of migrant farm workers. I just wish those lives had been depicted in a better book.

First of all the author writes as though she had just discovered poetic language. An image is never allowed to stand on it's own it is always turned into a metaphor or a simile. The cumulative effect of this not so much poetic but tiresome.

Second and this seems like such a small thing but the effect is huge. There is a complete absence of quot...more
Ezra
My sister who read this book before me, tricked me into reading it, sayign that it was a great book. I disliked this book very much there was no climax for enjoyment to the book. It was pure emotions from page to page of the characters feelings and it really bored me. This book had an interesting idea to it, and i give the author kotos for trying bu the story line put me to sleep and there was no guessing or hooks. This was a book about a family struggling from Mexico and migrating to America, f...more
Ryan
Great book. Really short and really amazing imagery. The characters are captivating and the plot is definitely not what shines, but it doesn't have to
Libby
I just couldn't finish it (which is sad, considering how short it is). Normally I would have tried harder, but I borrowed it, along with several others, from my sister and I need to return them all by the time I go back out there in May. Time's a ticking and it didn't seem worth spent on this one.
I bet it would have been really good, but I couldn't get through the over-the-top romantic/poetic language. I'm pretty sure every sentence contained some kind of metaphor and all the description was jus...more
Paul
Apr 11, 2011 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Not a ton of forward/linear/narrative movement, which might be interpreted/read as "slow," which I'll neither confirm nor deny. Viramontes feels obvious and deep concern for her characters, and they come off as completely human on the page as a result. Touching and moving. I may have to read it again sometime, because I felt distracted by life as I was reading and couldn't really sink into it. At times the lyricism was really nice, though at other times it kept me from fully being immersed in th...more
Leslie
Aug 19, 2007 Leslie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: one and all, chicana lit fans
Shelves: novels
This a lovely coming-of-age tale set among California migrant workers. And, look out, Toni. Like _Sula_, this one has always been a fave of mine. The back of the novel says it "blends lyricism, harsh realism, and a concern for social justice... stunning." I know its lazy to simply second that motion, but hey. Oh and a few other quick things: I read this for a Chicana lit course and would like to teach it myself. Also, peek at some of Viramontes' short stories; I *have* taught some of those ("The...more
Pierre
Apr 07, 2012 Pierre rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I read this book for a Latino/a studies class. Compared to other Chicana literature and other books in the Latino/a genre, this book doesn't stand out for me. It grinds and grinds, but I still didn't connect well to the main character, Estrella. There are moments of outstanding writing or metaphor, but they are overshadowed by prose that is needlessly confusing and hinges on stereotypes of the immigrant experience. I wasn't particularly surprised or enthralled to read it, but was at least conten...more
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