Poet Cofer's first novel explores Puerto Rican life, both on The Island and in El Building, a New Jersey tenement. In his Puerto Rican village, young Guzm†n is considered wild like the devil, but he's just alert and curious, seeking a different kind of love from his mother's harsh concern. He finds it with Rosa, the spiritist and sometime whore who's been hired to free him of evil spiritual influence. As a young man, he returns to Rosa as a lover. Scandal ensues; Rosa is forced to leave town; Guzm†n gets into more trouble and falls into the hands of an unscrupulous labor contractor who promises him work in the US. His sister and best friend marry and leave for the mainland separately, and it is their daughter, Marisol, who emerges as the novel's narrator, relating mythic tales about people and places she's never known. In New Jersey, Marisol and her brother are caught between conflicting values: their father enrolls them in an upper-middle-class Catholic school; their mother, who can't speak English, relies on the sense of community she finds in El Building and resists upward mobility. When Uncle Guzm†n suddenly reappears in their lives, Marisol finds someone she can love and trust. His visit coincides with growing tension: factory workers are preparing to strike; police cars circle in ominous threat; the women of El Building are planning a special spiritist meeting, which ends in tragedy and precipitates Guzm†n's return to the Island while Marisol's family moves to the suburbs. Despite some plot contrivance and awkward exposition, this is a vivid picture of family life--and a welcome addition to the literature of Latino culture in the US.