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Culturally inclusive, generally stilted debut tale of friends and family in New Mexico.

Abby, successful San Diego restaurateur and daughter of WASPs, is happily pregnant and madly in love with husband Bobby, whose flashing dark eyes and excitable way of talking confirm the obvious: he’s Hispanic and she isn’t! Their passionate couplings are described in awkward metaphor (“. . . their skin tones reminded her of vanilla fudge swirl ice cream”), while dark hints of family trouble are dropped like bricks: Bobby’s father, Ricardo, never really recovered from his wife Magdalena’s death, and then when Bobby joined the Navy at 16—well, things were never the same. Back to the restaurant: relaxing with her staff after the last customer leaves, Abby feels a richly deserved sense of contentment. Life is perfect. Nothing can go wrong. Uh, oh. Mean punks burst in, rob the place, and knock Bobby over the head. But he’s okay, and life will probably go on being almost perfect. Then the phone rings. Bobby’s father has died. Should they move to New Mexico and accept his legacy (a house) or sell it and stay in San Diego? Bobby longs for his unborn child to be raised as he was, in a close-knit community. Abby thinks it over for about five seconds, and they return to a magical land of sun-drenched vistas peopled by a bewildering array of earth mother types, wise old hippies, Native American sages, and traditional healers, all of whom seem to know everything—except why Bobby has suddenly vanished. Befriended (sort of) by grumpy Rachel, who raises goats, Abby does her damnedest to make sense of it all. Eventually, Bobby’s cousin Santiago provides crucial information about the disappearance—having to do with the disputed ownership of a house, decades of seething resentment, unresolved sibling rivalry, and other melodramatic complications.

Long-winded, rather confusing first novel—complete with discussion questions in the back.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21110-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: NAL/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2003