"A delightful novel...impossible to resist." —Barbara Kingsolver, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Sofia and her fated daughters, Fe, Esperanza, Caridad, and la Loca, endure hardship and enjoy love in the sleepy New Mexico hamlet of Tome, a town teeming with marvels where the comic and the horrific, the real and the supernatural, reside.
Castillo's ( Sapogonia ) inventive but not entirely cohesive novel about the fortunes of a contemporary Chicana family in the village of Tome, N.M., reveals its main concerns at once. Sofi's three-year-old daughter dies in a horrifying epileptic fit but is resurrected (and even levitates) at her own funeral, reporting firsthand acquaintance with hell, purgatory and heaven. Magic and divine intervention in varying ways touch each of Sofi's three other daughters: the eldest, mainstreamed yuppie Esperanza; Caridad, whose path leads toward folk mysticism; and the more mundane Fe, who--seized with a screaming convulsion when her fiance jilts her--is brought to silence only months later through the intercession of the resurrected youngest sister, ``Loca.'' Castillo takes a page from the magical realist school of Latin American fiction, but one senses the North American component of this Chicana voice: in her work, occult phenomena are literal, not symbolic; life is traumatic and brutal--as are men--but death is merely tentative. She sounds a secondary note as a proponent of feminism and social justice, but her hand falters when she attempts to blend the formation of an artisans' cooperative or an industrial toxins scandal into a universe of magical healings and manifestations. Castillo is also a critic, a translator and a poet.
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