Friday, June 1, 2007

La Bruja Buena de Agua Mansa

A lyrical first novel reminiscent of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic, Still Water Saints is a great first effort from Alex Espinoza. In the small border town of Agua Mansa, Perla runs her botanica full of herbs, remedies, saint cards, charms and candles. The townspeople come to her for healing--hearts, heads, spirits, bodies. Along with the special potions and incenses and tributes to various saints, Perla provides hope and encouragement to her visitors. When a frightened and homeless boy, Rodrigo, comes to Perla for English lessons, she writes out the story of her life for him. His disappearance challenges Perla to examine her own doubts and losses in her life even as she seeks to heal Rodrigo's physical and emotional wounds. Fans of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel or Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Co. by Maria Ampara Escandon will be equally charmed by these hopeful characters. Don't expect a tidy resolution. Life hasn't ever delivered one of these in reality and Espinoza's fiction depicts life, not fantasy.
This book was discussed on The Walt Bodine Show 's Book Doctors program May 17, 2007. KCUR 89.3

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