Bitter reflections on the 1968 massacre of Mexican student demonstrators as it affected Rafa, an upper class boy drawn to the fringes of the student movement by his cousin Nicolas. Rafa, never quite sure whether petitions and marches are ""realistic,"" tries to understand the visionary idealism of Nicolas, who has himself been influenced by Maclovio--the blind Painter of Miracles (1974) and now a potter and village leader. Nicolas first startles the family with his decision to inhabit a cell built to hide a priest during the anti-clerical '20's; later he takes a step which Rafa's conscience spares him and disobeys a family injunction against activism. Rafa, who suffers a nervous breakdown after seeing Nicolas gunned down at Tlatelolco, has some kinship with the post-revolutionary mood here; not so his ambivalent allegiance to a stuffy family--or friend Virginia's willingness to give up her schooling to care for her orphaned niece and nephew. Someone here, in a dialectical argument, theorizes that Mexican politics are always ""personal""; but just as Rafa's ideals are compared to the family founder's futile search for a diamond mine, one is struck by the impersonal perspective here. American readers may well find Rafa ineffectual. But Roy's assimilation of Latin American style produces some striking symbolism and beautiful moments. Neither as exceptional nor as aloof as Painter of Miracles, yet certainly one of the few substantial comments we've seen on Mexican youth today.