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Daughters of the Stone

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  49 reviews
It is the mid-1800s. Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published August 12th 2009)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  290 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Tara Chevrestt
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Gosh. This is a good book, the kind of book that leaves me having to get my thoughts in order to write this. It's about 5 women, each a new generation of the same family. It begins with Fela. Fela takes readers from the land of Africa to Puerto Rico when she is taken as a slave. Thru her, the tragedy of slavery on the island is told. She leaves behind Mati and Mati exacts revenge on the men who have done her and her mother wrong. Mati gives birth to Concha who struggles to make her mother's worl ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
The story begins with Fela in the mid-1800s sold into slavery on a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico. Before she left Africa she and her husband performed a tribal ritual in which the essence of their unborn child was put into a special stone. This stone thus becomes the glue for the entire book. The book is separated into five parts beginning, as mentioned, with Fela's story which is then passed on - along with the stone - to her daughter, Mati. From Mati the stories and the stones go to Concha, ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm sorry it took me so long to check this off my "to read" list. This is a beautifully written story that spans generations, cultures and oceans. I saw a few of my own stories reflected in this writing as well as some of my family. This is the story of a stone that is passed on to the first girl of each generation, it brings with it a responsibility that cannot be ignored or passed over. The lives of Fela, Mati, Tia Josefa, Concha, Elena and Carisa are all played out against the backdrop of the ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book I literally couldn't put down once I started it. It draws you in from the start and refuses to let go. The book is a series of tales spun in the African griot storyteller tradition, each focusing on the successive generations of the women in a family of black Puerto Ricans over the generations from the first woman brought over from Africa on a slave ship through plantation life during the Spanish colonial period, the American experience and on to America itself, only t ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The 'Daughters of the Stone" paints a rich and emotional picture of the lives of five generations of women. That it takes place in Puerto Rico adds to the colorful tapestry of the story. With that said Figueroa's book is this and much more. The struggles of these women in each of their relationships as mother, daughter, grandmother, and wife will strike a chord of recognition if you are any of the above. As well as the message to remember the stories passed down in our families. In this way we r ...more
Kari Walker
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book and the importance it gives to the oral tradition of families. While I did not spiritually identify with the gods presented, I definately identified with the idea that through storytelling we pass on identity. The women in this book were stronger and more successful the closer they got to their roots, and the more they embraced the legacy of where they came from.
Britt McCritt (Bantu Book Review)
Very well-written story that comes full circle. The language is rich and the characters are complicated and wholly developed. This book really moved me for a number of reasons and I feel inspired to investigate more thoroughly, listen more fully, dream and live more freely. It's a really simple book but the context is really what makes this book so powerful.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: afro-latinx
Such a beautiful book. I think women no matter what color they are should read this book. Teaches the importance of family, love, communication, pain, and ancestors. I loved it I will definitely pick it up again.
Kim Barton
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it

I found the book uneven. The stories of Fela and Mati were beautiful and riveting. The later stories, and particularly the last one, dragged. The last story, from the point of view of a modern woman, was thin compared to the others.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
How do you know who you are? This is a real question. How can you be sure you are who you are, and what do you know about yourself that defines you? This is one of the questions Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa is trying to answer in her 2009 novel, Daughters of the Stone. This book is as ambitious in scope as it is in purpose, and yet easily readable and not terribly long. I sat down with it during finals week and, despite being supposed to have more important things to do (like revisions), I finished it ...more
Faith Reidenbach
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
It's unfair to expect One Hundred Years of Solitude from a writer who (apparently) works at another job, but that's what I wanted from this 5-generation novel. The author is similar to Gabriel García Márquez in that she was raised on family stories told to her by her rural elders, which inspired the stories in this book, she says. Alas, her work is literally much "thinner"--the male characters are particularly sketchy and/or flat--than García Márquez's masterpiece.

Still, I recommend this book. T
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s DAUGHTERS OF THE STONE is a beautiful homage to the vitality and power of the maternal line (and the ever complex relationships between daughters, mothers, and grandmothers) and the way we keep the souls of our ancestors alive today through storytelling. Llanos-Figueroa seamlessly traces the way story and spirituality flows through the generations, giving voices and faces to people we don’t usually see because they have been, for all intents and purposes, erased from our ...more
Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)
Loved it and wanted more! This book tells an epic family tale from Africa, through slavery on a Puerto Rican sugar cane plantation freedom into land ownership and education. The five generations of women each learn about themselves and the importance of family, as they keep the stories and healing traditions of their African ancestors. Telling such a saga, it's surprising that this book isn't 800 pages, but it's not. Dahlma Llanos Figueroa does a great job of skipping huge pieces of time without ...more
A multigenerational saga of a slave and her descendants in the Caribbean, Daughters of the Stone is a good readalike to Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende, The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson, and even Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. While not quite as polished as those three titles, I very much appreciated the focus on life through the centuries for Afro-Puerto Ricans and the legacy of slavery, as well as how modern boricuans still find themselves in the same patterns and cycles.
Debby Stephan
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. It follow five generations of women from Africa, through slavery in Puerto Rico to freedom and to New York. All of them pass down to their first daughters a truly magical stone. This stone helps them to carry their stories, the memories of the past, knowledge for the future, and the way to see their paths. All of them live difficult lives but they make it through.

The history throughout the book is wonderful. I love reading books about other cultures because there i
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
From slave days in Puerto Rico through 5 generations of daughters which end in New York, we visit each daughters story. I found the 1st two which take place in Puerto Rico interesting because their struggles were so much greater. Fela's story is one of slavery and love and getting out of both. Mati's story is of healer and craftswoman making her way as a free woman. Then we get to Concha who rejects her past and Elena who gets different struggles in New York City. Carisa returns to her historica ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up in my library while searching for Puerto Rican literature to enhance my trip to Puerto Rico. There were few choices. Wow what a great book! The writing is crisply descriptive and compelling without being heavy-handed or overlong [one of my pet peeves]. The tale of several generations of Afro-Puerto Rican women from the slavery of the 1800's through immigration to contemporary independent woman is interesting and engaging. I learned a lot too! Beautiful cover illustration. A gem.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
An interesting inter-generational story of women who are keepers of a sacred stone from Africa. The first woman is sold into slavery and brings the stone to American with her. The characters are all distinctive and interesting, as are their experiences. It's any easy read and perhaps not the best writing but enjoyable and informative.
Jun 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
The concept was interesting, there were some nice lines, a few interesting bits here and there, but the writing was not truly good, and so much of it was cliche and contrived as hell. I can see what the author wanted to do with the story, I can sense her love for the setting and her pride in writing the story, but it just was not working for me. I didn't finish it.
This was one of those reads was good in parts. However, some of the language was so whimiscal it took away from the true grit of the idea of the novel, which was beautiful. I think the author tried to make the story so beautiful, that the writing overshadowed everything.

Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Incredibly well-written.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I really loved the plot and the premise. But the execution was just good. I wanted it to be great. I never sank into the characters fully.
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book took a little longer to read than usually because of other things happening in my life so I feel like I lost some of the continuity and started to get a little confused about the different characters. The book follows four generations of African mothers/daughters in Puerto Rico as told by the fourth daughter in modern times. The first part of the book was the most engaging. It was a rich story full of magical realism and mystery because it happened so long ago. And as time progresses, ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This lyrical novel tells the story of the strong, gifted women of an Afro-Puerto Rican family. Spanning five generations, we first meet Fela, a West African woman brought to Puerto Rico whose body is enslaved but whose soul can never be captured. She gives birth to her daughter Mati on the banks of the river, leaving the earth with a gift before joining her beloved Imo in the afterlife. Mati, born with unique healing powers, eventually gives birth to Concha, a daughter who will not appreciate he ...more
I felt that there were some important things that I needed to understand about Fela, the first of these women, that I couldn't get a handle on because we were told so little about her life in Africa. I'm sure that I would have understood her better if the book had begun in Africa.

I had serious problems with the ethics of Fela's daughter, Mati, and felt that she represented an unfortunate stereotype.

The protagonists that I could relate to best were the contemporary ones. That isn't a result tha
This was a very fast read but good. It is a story that starts in the 1800 in which slaves are worked on the plantations in Puerto Rico. One slave named Fela, holds a magic from Africa in which she wished for a baby for her and her husband. The magic is contained in a stone. While on the plantation she knows she has to fullfill her destiny and give birth to a daughter. Fela does and the rest of the story is about all the generation of daughters that come after her daughter Mati. I enjoyed learnin ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I finished this book last week. I'm hesitant to say it wasn't a good book because first, there aren't many books about generations of Puerto Rican women who were raised in African traditions and beliefs. Second, I wanted to like the book and had high hopes. There were nuggets and gems within the book that made it enjoyable, but there were too many stories told at a cursory level versus a deeper look at each woman and how they connect to each other and to the matriarch of the family. The book tha ...more
E. Adeline
This book is in the 3.5-4 star range for me. I thought the first half was super strong, and I loved reading in Fela, Mati, and Concha's perspectives. I did, however, think that Elena and Carisa's sections were a bit underdeveloped. It felt a bit disconnected from the first part of the book. I did love how it ended, though, and the general theme of the oral tradition and storytelling (especially amongst ladies) was great. And, overall, the writing and atmosphere were both strong, as well. I recom ...more
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed: the first part of the book telling the tales of Fela, Mati, and Concha best. The writing was more lyrical, their stories more colorful and vibrant, and the history rich.

I wish: More depth/insight were given to Elena and Carissa's gifts. I felt that while the stone connected them to the past, their so-called gifts were not really presented. Perhaps this was to show the disconnect between the past and present.

SPOILER************* SPOILER**************************

I like how the story end
Anne Slater
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a really engaging book with almost too much of a good thing.
The worst parts (please skip them!) are the first and last pages of text. Here is what they say (not spoiling anything)"These are my stories. Told just as they were told to me by my mother, to her by her mother... Please read them".
Her editor should have cut them The stories tell themselves.

A teensy suspension of disbelief is required if you are a total pragmatist and have no Dream Time in you.
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Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She is a product of the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in the South Bronx. She attended the New York City public school system and received her academic degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Queens College-City University of New York. As a child she was sent to live with her grandparents ...more
“Nightmares are for people who refuse to listen to their hearts. People who have lost their way, who are hollow. Fear slips into those hollow places. It is the very emptiness that draws the fear.” 9 likes
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