If ever there was a case of more sinned against than sinning it is this story of Maria, a Puerto Rican country girl forced to flee to San Juan when her uncle rapes her. In the city a kindly priest takes care of her and places her as a maid in a household that welcomes the arrival of her baby Jose--a child Maria hates. Then Maria falls in love with a young student who sympathizes with her plight- which is more than his mother does. Now with another baby, Berta, to support on her meager wages, Maria accepts the offer of an elderly politician and becomes his mistress. When her keeper imagines that she is having an affair with Pedro, his protege, he throws them both out. For a short time Maria enjoys happiness with Pedro as her husband and their son Carlo. Then Pedro is killed while trying to organize the dock workers. Maria takes to drink, her daughter becomes a prostitute, Jose, a petty thief, dreams of escaping to New York and young Carlo tries to support the family. Ashamed, Maria sets out to make money in the only way she knows how. At the novel's end, sure she will die from the imminent birth of another child, she urges Carlo to follow his father's example. A somber novel, reminiscent in subject and sometimes in tone of the proletarian novels of the 1930's, this presents a grim picture of the Puerto Rican poor, although a series of flashbacks and a circular plot tend to rob the heroine of the necessary reader sympathy and interest.