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Bless Me, Ultima

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  24,148 ratings  ·  2,109 reviews
Bless Me, Ultima. Written by Rudolfo Anaya
Published June 26th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1972)
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Tracy At our house, we see long books as a good thing - if the story is great, you don't want it to end. It'd like a tv show with 1 hour episodes versus 1/2…moreAt our house, we see long books as a good thing - if the story is great, you don't want it to end. It'd like a tv show with 1 hour episodes versus 1/2 hour episodes. If you love the show - you want the whole hour. So in reality - longer books give you more time to live in the world the author is creating for you. Escape to this other world and enjoy the experience. And if you are not sure what to read next - this is a great place to ask! Tell us what you enjoy and we will give you suggestions. Good books are one of life's greatest gifts.(less)
Eliza Pitter While not mysterious, I believe Bless Me, Ultima does have an interesting origin story. According to a Nobel Speech made by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (an…moreWhile not mysterious, I believe Bless Me, Ultima does have an interesting origin story. According to a Nobel Speech made by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (an author and lover of magical realism), magical realism's roots in Latin America was brought about through tales filled with originality used as a coping mechanism by the oppressed Latin American people during European colonization.

Long story short: Anaya likely wrote in this genre to embrace his hispanic heritage.
(Magical realism = use of magical elements considered normal in the work.)(less)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,148 ratings  ·  2,109 reviews

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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
Richard Derus
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a one city, one book choice for Austin, Texas, where I lived at the time. It was my second reading of the title at that time, and I was as entranced the second time as I was the first. What a joyous ride through the wonderful magical world of Hispanic New Mexico.

I would recommend this to any reader of the magical realism school, or any fan of Hispanic literature, or anyone who needs a memorable escape from the real world.
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
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
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, that I could read time and time again and never grow tired of it. It never fails to touch me deep in my soul.

Edited to add: I've read this book now 4 times, once a decade since first discovering. I still love it as much as I did the first time I read it and I always discover new things.

In the meantime I found this inter
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
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: selection of our local book club
Rudolfo Anaya reconstructs our understanding of Chicano culture. From the outset he insists on colloquialisms and idioms voiced in untranslated Spanish. This linguistic choice is a subtle indicator of a growing disconnect between the non-English speaking older generation and their English language schooled children.

An almost medieval Catholicism pervades the story. Six-year-old Antonio is torn by the opposing ambitions of his parents. His mother believes he is marked for the priesthood. She ins
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.

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
Shelly Leyden
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you a good witch or a bad witch ... which? This beautiful book is about rejecting the binaries we cling to, and opening up to the nuanced mystery that is life. The argument for nuance begins with a bang. When Lupito shoots the sheriff, Antonio's father and Narciso both argue for a more complex, open-ended empathy — or at least due process — for him. But a swift and definitive vigilante justice prevails. We like easy, eye for an eye equations where murderers get what they deserve. But this is ...more
"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
Bark (2 Dumb 2 Read Blurbs)
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
This book is the first of a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels by Rudolfo Anaya, set in rural New Mexico in the 1940's, where Anaya grew up. Antonio Juan Marez y Luna is 6 years old and just starting school when the novel opens. His three older brothers have gone to fight in World War II; Antonio and his two older sisters live with their parents in a small village, on the edge of the open plains. Also living with them is Ultima, a cuandera (midwife, healer, herbalist, and shaman).
Sue K H
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this quite a bit. I never would have been interested in reading it if it weren't for The Great American Read on PBS. On the show, a young Latino woman talked about how important it was for her reading something that mirrored her experience as a Latino growing up in New Mexico. I like reading about other cultures so I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it. It was pretty deep for a young adult book.
Julio Bonilla
I read this my sophomore year of high school, late 90s. Those were the days!


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
Courtney Hatch
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Part of my love for this book could very well be because it takes place in New Mexico—a place that I know and love. I’ve actually never read a book that was SO New Mexicany in my life. Anaya is a fantastic writer, and his pacing is wonderful. I loved it.
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
I had some issues with the book. It just wasn't for me.
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
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.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2013
*Bless Me, Ultima* is a novel set in New Mexico and tells the coming of age story of a young boy. The boy, who struggles to understand God, religion, good and evil, witnesses murder and death.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Into the Forest: Bless me Ultima (w/ spoilers) 21 11 Mar 31, 2019 07:23PM  
Magical Realism 3 8 Nov 12, 2018 05:49AM  
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I'm reading it in it good? 18 61 Sep 05, 2016 06:19PM  
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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
“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.” 46 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” 45 likes
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