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 In this artfully written novel about a Mexican woman, Lim¢n (In Search of BernabÇ, not reviewed) offers a soapy plot and scant new insights into the immigrant experience. Ana Calder¢n's story is revealed in sections in the third person, which alternate with shorter first-person comments. Ana was born and raised in southern Mexico. Her family believed that she had poisoned her mother's womb for males, because after her birth three sons were born and died. After her mother's death in 1932, her family--including an orphan named Octavio Arce who was adopted unofficially--moves north and then crosses the border to the United States in search of work. Ana's father is so naãve that he believes he will find employment as a fisherman in Los Angeles because it is a coastal city. There the tale loses much of its lyricism and almost all credibility. Ana and Octavio begin a secret affair, and when Ana's father discovers she is pregnant (he doesn't know Octavio is the father), he beats her and threatens to kill her. She is taken in by a local Japanese woman and then, after Octavio arranges for them to marry but leaves her at the altar, she goes to live with a friendly, Bible-reading couple on a chicken ranch where she gives birth to a son named Ismael. Meanwhile, Octavio marries Ana's crafty sister Alejandra. When Octavio has regrets and tries to steal Ismael, Ana shoots him and is sent to prison. While she is there, Ismael is given up for adoption. Upon her release, Ana finds a job, goes to college, and eventually becomes wealthy--but, bereft of her son, she is still miserable. A preposterous ending ruins this simple tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55885-116-X
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Arte Público
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994