Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

When a curandera comes to stay with a young boy, he tests the bonds that tie him to his culture and finds himself in the secrets of the past. - SBCL

Antonio Marez must face numerous conflicts as he grows up in New Mexico. He is helped by Ultima, a curandera who cures with herbs and magic. At each turn of Tony's life, she is there to nurture his soul. - CDE

I felt the same power in this book as I felt when I read Chinua Achebe. The power of a great writer to create a world of his heritage so that it becomes your world as well. Where everything makes sense to you and you live and breath the story. This is the story of a little boy, he is only six, who moves innocently in the worlds and conflicts of his Spanish and Mexican ancestors and cultures. It is the story of his New Mexican family, his mom and dad who come from totally opposing traditions. And it is the story of Ultima, the healer, the curandera. Ultima, the old and wise woman, has learned the ways of the ancients, the Native Americans, the Spanish and the Mexican. She is the midwife that delivered all the children of the family, and especially the last child, Antonio. Out of respect the family has given her a home in her old age.

Antonio is beginning the journey from being a boy to growing to manhood in the world. But he is also, through his dreams and experiences, starting another journey, one of self-discovery and gaining his place in the spiritual world as well. And Ultima becomes his spiritual guide.

Antonio, always asking questions, and bravely open to new experiences, learns to trust Ultima's wisdom and ultimately his own understanding. It is a book to be read when you are ready to read it. I believe you will know that time.

No comments: