A blended family learns to cope and have compassion for each other.
Mexican-American Glorieta Magdalena Davis Espinosa takes her obligations to her family very seriously. Her mother’s family, the Espinosas, has lived in the same house for 400 years, and her aunts are the matriarchs of the town of Puerto de la Luna, which was swallowed up by Epoch, New Mexico, when it became a part of the United States but kept much of its magic and Mexicanness. But no magic can soothe Glorieta’s grief over losing her mother to suicide years ago. Her great-aunt, la Doña Diosonita, forbade a burial in consecrated ground because they believed her death to be a mortal sin, and since her father remarried six weeks ago, her mother’s ashes have been socked away in a drawer. Glorieta has about a month before Día de los Muertos, and she wants to use that time to convince her aunt that her mother deserves to be honored and not forgotten. But she also has to deal with a cruel new stepsister, an out-of-work father, and political disagreements among neighbors, some of whom call the town’s many undocumented immigrants “aliens” and others who say “refugees.” Although the plot grows too busy at times, the combination of magical realism, syncretism, and Catholicism is thoughtful and realistic, not preachy, and is accessible to believers and nonbelievers alike. Perhaps most important, Glorieta’s desperation is affecting and wrenching.
The complex, layered plot pulls no punches. (Fiction. 10-14)