THE FLOWER IN THE SKULL by Kathleen Alcala

THE FLOWER IN THE SKULL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Alcal†’s overly ambitious latest, the second part of a planned trilogy that began with Spirits of the Ordinary (1997), spans more than a century in offering a view of three women linked by Indian blood and their dreams, and seared by the violent transgressions of men. Childhood comforts in her Opata village in Sonoran Mexico cease for Concha when her father is seized by Mexican soldiers and never seen again. First abandoning home with her family, then herself abandoned by her mother, Concha walks in a daze across the desert to Tucson, where she’s taken in as a nanny by a prospering Mexican family. A measure of peace returns to her. But when she’s raped by an Anglo and has his child, nothing can ever be the same. A brief marriage fails to produce more children, so her husband dallies with someone else, leaving Concha and daughter Rosa to fend for themselves. Over the years, Rosa picks up the burden when her mother grows too weak to continue the dawn-to-dusk housecleaning work that has sustained them, but then Rosa catches the eye of a young minister and receives Concha’s blessing to marry him just before Concha dies. Busy starting her own family and keeping her own house, Rosa still wonders about her mother’s past--and the father she never knew. Two generations forward, Shelly, an editorial assistant for an L.A. publisher, jumps at the chance to escape her stalking, harassing boss by going on a research trip to Tucson, where she finds not only a mystery involving her mother’s family and her people in a broader sense, but also the will to survive the horror waiting for her when she returns to Los Angeles. A thin stretch of a story, with scattered lyric beauty. This might fill a gap between more substantial efforts, but can’t hold interest on its own.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8118-1916-7
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998




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