Jimenez did a nice job of telling the stories of growing up as the second child in a family that moved from California farm to farm picking strawberriJimenez did a nice job of telling the stories of growing up as the second child in a family that moved from California farm to farm picking strawberries, grapes, and other crops. I'm afraid I've read too much Luis Urrea and Victor Villasenor and was subconsciously comparing this work to theirs -- of course it fell a bit under their very high marks. Taken on it's own, this is a great look at a very hard time and a very hard way to grow up in America. It's a valuable addition to the Latino literature, and important for understanding. ...more
There is nothing in this world (or probably the next) quite like Mexican Folkloric dance -- the Aztec dances are strong and tell the story of the timeThere is nothing in this world (or probably the next) quite like Mexican Folkloric dance -- the Aztec dances are strong and tell the story of the times with strength and grace and understanding. The more modern regional dances each has it's own set of costumes -- from the fluffy lace-ruffled Vera Cruz dress with the black apron covered with embroidered flowers to the wonderful black velvet straight dresses embossed with a rainbow of huge splashy flowers to the Vestida de listones -- the beribboned dresses of Jaliso with the sweeping skirts that measure 18 yards around.
This, then is the story of four LA women who are part of a Folkloric dance troupe -- from the group's organizer to dancers, and to the award winning costume designer and seamstress who is in the US illegally. As the story unfolds each faces a life changing moment -- some head on, some in a way that later shames them. Reyna Grande handles this challenge beautifully, telling each of the four stories so that we can know the four women, and care about what happens to each of them.
She thankfully avoids a too sweet it's all back together and we're all happy now ending that might have been tempting. Some things aren't meant to be and others are too broken to be fixed and she wisely understands that.
Well done Reyna. I enjoyed the second reading this year as much as when I bought the book last year. ...more
When the coddled niece of the hacienda owner moves back to Mexico and the hacienda after the Texas suicide of her father, she's promised to the elderlWhen the coddled niece of the hacienda owner moves back to Mexico and the hacienda after the Texas suicide of her father, she's promised to the elderly owner of an adjoining hacienda who controls the water for the area. Refusing this advantageous coupling, she instead falls in love with the dazzling "up to no good" handsome hacienda charro; he also robs trains to earn money for the Mexican 1910 revolution coffers.
Ana escapes her room, where she is being held until the nuptials, and discovers that Carlos has been beaten and dumped on the train heading north. She follows and takes up arms, becoming a soldadera in addition to learning to make tortillas and wash laundry on the rocks in the river.
This book had every opportunity to be stellar -- the author put enough interesting turns and twists in to the predictable plot line to keep it interesting. The author, at times, wrote very well, did fairly well at characterization -- there were times that they were nearly 3 dimensional before they slipped back to 2.5 dimension.
I think maybe the biggest problem was the dialogue -- during the first half, converations between 2 people would go back and forth, page after page until not only was I no longer sure who was speaking, I felt as if I had a stiff neck from playing Pong -- that old, old video game.
The thing is, there was enough there to keep me reading, even though I skimmed from 45% to about 80%. Truth be told, I would have been better off to skim large sections of that endless early dialogue. Then I wouldn't have been burned out and could have enjoyed more the last 30% which was quite a bit better. ...more
Victor Villasenor is a brilliant story teller -- and he has a world of stories to tell about his familia who started in the highlands of the central MVictor Villasenor is a brilliant story teller -- and he has a world of stories to tell about his familia who started in the highlands of the central Mexican state of Jalisco -- Los Altos, near Arandas. The story of this book is of the unbelievable hardships his family withstood during the time of the Mexico Revolution and the beginning of the Cristeros just after. His grandmother watched as her family of 14 children, who all grew to adulthood were killed, maimed, castrated, raped and murdered until by the time they leave their mountain home there are just 2 of her 7 sons and 2 of her 7 daughters left -- and the older son is killed during the first weeks of their escape.
This is the story of Mexico's dark history -- her civil war -- when her citizens didn't know from one day to the next who was coming down the road, which side represented the right and which leader to follow. In the lives of the regular people in Los Altos, it didn't seem to matter much, no matter who came up the mountain, it meant that more would suffer and die.
I love Victor Villasenor's books and stories. I laugh and I cry as I join the family for a bit...and during this book, I cringed and shuddered at the ruthless widespread suffering. What animo! What courage and what strength -- ...more
I love books that read like fiction but are about historical characters...this is the case in this book about a Hearst Reporter who goes to Cuba to heI love books that read like fiction but are about historical characters...this is the case in this book about a Hearst Reporter who goes to Cuba to help free Evangelina Cisneros a young revolutionary of the early 1900s before she is shipped to Spain's African penal colony. ...more
Well this book has been a struggle...I started back in January and quit after about 100 pages. When I picked it up again, it was a struggle to get oveWell this book has been a struggle...I started back in January and quit after about 100 pages. When I picked it up again, it was a struggle to get over the 200 page mark, but then like looked better, both in my world and that of the book.
For at least half of these 500 pages, I've wondered why we spent so much time developing his childhood days -- until I reached the end and it all became clear. The ending is far more satisfying than I had any reason to believe it would be, and I'm content giving it 3 stars, would go 3.5 if possible. Wouldn't have believe that to be possible a couple of weeks ago.
I am glad I came back to it and I am glad I finished it. Good lesson for me -- I'm far too apt to toss a book to the corner after 50-100 pages if I've not been sucked in securely by then. I would have not persevered with this one if it 1) wasn't written by Kingsolver, 2) recommended by my daughter and 3) a book club selection. ...more
Wonderful book about the author's time in Mexico (Lake Chapala and Guanajuato) from 1923-1926. Wonderful to get this very real view of the area at theWonderful book about the author's time in Mexico (Lake Chapala and Guanajuato) from 1923-1926. Wonderful to get this very real view of the area at the time when the author and his artist friend Lowell Houser and Jackson's wife Eileen were the only Americans in the area, and there was no road between Chapala and ajijic and Jocotepec--trips between the villages were made walking, riding a burro or hiring a launch and boatman. The trio rented one of hte early mansions (El Manglar) the former vacation home of Mexico's dictator Porfirio Diaz for $35 US a month--and got flooded out. ...more
Excellent book which tells the stories of two women who lived 200 years apart, yet whose lives are intertwined...Very well done with a difficult conceExcellent book which tells the stories of two women who lived 200 years apart, yet whose lives are intertwined...Very well done with a difficult concept. Interesting bit of history--at the time of the origin of small pox vaccine the 1803 scene is moving the vaccine from Spain to the new world--by transferring the liquid from a cow pox sore to "carriers" and then at 10 days to 2 weeks transferring it again to new carriers--the ship carried two dozen orphan boys for this purpose--transferring to 2 boys each time to be sure that the vaccine was not lost.