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Rudolfo Anaya Reads Bless Me, Ultima (Excerpts)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  21,619 Ratings  ·  1,851 Reviews
A talent for meaningful storytelling and exquisite prose has made Rudolfo Anaya a leading exponent of Chicano literature in English. Anaya's work has won international acclaim, earning him a premier place in virtually every anthology of Latino writing. Now his classic bestseller, "Bless Me, Ultima" is reborn in this beautifully illustrated special edition. Antonio Marez is ...more
Audio Cassette, 1 page
Published June 1982 by American Audio Prose Library (first published 1972)
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Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 distric
Sep 24, 2010 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
Jan 27, 2008 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
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ed Pattison
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

"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
Aug 23, 2012 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
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 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
Jun 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
Five stars are not enough for this timeless classic! I would give it one hundred stars if I could! Bless Me Ultima is one of those tales, part coming of age story, part magical realism, that I could read time and time again and never grow tired of. It never fails to touch me deep in my soul.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the novel “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya, One of the main character, Ultima is accused many times of being a witch. Ultima is a curandera who use herb and medicine to cures people. She goes to live with Antonio Marez, a young boy who lives in the illano with his parents and two sisters due to the fact that she cannot live by herself and had nowhere to stay. Although many people think she is a witch, her use of herbs, medicine, and scapular show that she is merely just a curandera. With h ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very moved by this book. Antonio's journey to coming of age was fraught with danger, violence, and deeply spiritual questions. I fell into Antonio's world and had a hard time pulling myself out of it. His family, friends, and especially, Ultima profoundly affected him, and in turn made me think and ask questions. There were parts of the story that were stressful to read, but it was definitely worth it.
Mignon DeLarre
Bless me another way. If this book i had to read for class...I would drop the class. It's good for the most part but is bogged down with a lot of unnecessary imagery and words.
This novel of a childhood at the edge of New Mexico's Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain, is as good as anything I have read this year -- and I have read a lot of good books. Different from many other childhood memoirs, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya does not merely tell of a series of childhood events, but of a war between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

Antonio Marez lives in a world in which there is the Catholic Church, but there are also brujos and brujas (warlocks and witches), b
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
Robert Beveridge
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima (Tonatiuh, 1972)

Bless Me, Ultima has 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 attr
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece of storytelling - Incredible pacing and evocative scene construction. The final pages were read through tears. What it is about the relationship dynamic of an old woman and a young boy that I respond to so viscerally? Berenice Sadie Brown nd John Henry West in The Member of the Wedding, Miss. Sook and Buddy in Capote's A Christmas Memory, Mrs. Oldknow and Tolly in The Children of Green Knowe and Luke and Grandmamma in Dahl's The Witches. It touches me to my core. Ultima and Antonio ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Erika Jost
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book aloud to my husband while we were on vacation in New Mexico; it was a recommendation of a woman working at Collected Works in Santa Fe. I loved that we got to read it while traveling in that landscape. Beyond that, I appreciated Antonio's accessible and incisive treatment of the inherent practical (what will I do) and intellectual (what do I believe) conflicts of growing up: I think I would have found a great deal of solace in this book if I had read it in junior high.

My husband
Nov 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa Railey
So this is one of those free audiobooks I got from Sync YA Literature. I really don't know that it's a book that I would have otherwise picked up but I'm glad I did. I found it to be a very interesting coming of age story. I thoroughly appreciate the way that Anaya blended myth and legend with reality and also the Spanish and English languages. It was a very interesting and well written book.
Juana Lopez
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a powerful story of a young boy named Antonio who is trying to find his identity in a Mexican-American community. He faces many difficult situations that begin to change his perspective on life, his culture, and his family's traditions. He is confronted by many expectations from his family members and has to make difficult decisions that a normal boy should not be making. One of the most difficult is of choosing whether or not to follow his maternal bloodline ...more
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I'm reading it in it good? 18 56 Sep 05, 2016 06:19PM  
Suspended Disbelief 2 7 Sep 01, 2016 04:36PM  
two languages 2 10 Sep 01, 2016 04:23PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya 1 12 Jun 09, 2016 07:23PM  
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • So Far from God
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo
  • Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
  • Zoot Suit and Other Plays
  • Black Mesa Poems
  • Under the Feet of Jesus
  • Loving in the War Years
  • George Washington Gomez: A Mexicotexan Novel
  • La Maravilla
  • Always Running
  • Thirteen Senses
  • Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie
  • Esperanza's Box of Saints
  • The Revolt of the Cockroach People
  • Chicano
  • Woodcuts of Women
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.” 44 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” 39 likes
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