March 17, 2007

Book Reviews

The Rain of Gold
by Victor Villaseñor

I loved this book. The author of this book, a Mexican-American, interviewed his extended family and wrote the amazing story of their history from the interviews. He wrote in the style used by many Latin American writers: beautiful mysticism blended with fact, characters too numerous to keep track of, and time which flows circularly, or however it prefers.

Two families live, celebrate, and survive, and eventually join to become one through the two main characters, his parents. One family lives a peaceful existence high in the hills of Jalisco, while the other lives in a town in Chihuahua with an American-owned gold mine. But, when the revolution becomes too bloody, the story leaves Mexico as the families migrate, and then it follows their various existences in the United States.

Love. Hunger. War. Birth. Death. Some people find themselves in jail, mainly due to crimes committed in the face of these evils, or in the case of one main character because a rich man paid him to confess to the rich son's crime, and in doing so, he can feed his family. There are emotional fights. People are lost, begin new lives and then found by their long lost families. It is a painful but beautiful story of faith and strength and survival.

And, of course, it is a great story of love. Familial love and its many incarnations. Romantic love in all of its forms. The strength and dignity of the two main characters makes you yearn for them to grow into and find each other long before they ever meet. The story of Juan's wooing of Lupe is set during prohibition, while Juan is a bootlegger and Lupe's family is devout. Thus, like everything in this book, even the beauty of their love, which is pure in many ways, is built upon some sort of evil or deception, which later will bare fruit and cause problems (a repeating theme).

Yes, this book is an amazing historical work that enthralled and educated me on the past of my country and its relationship with Mexico and her immigrants. But, it is also an excellent tale in the fable sense: it is simply a great story that entertains while teaching lessons about the truth of the complicated nature of life.

No comments: