Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

This novel tells of a multigenerational mixed Mexican/Indian family living in New Mexico and Colorado beginning in the 1800’s and ending in Denver during the 1930’s. The book describes the lives of each each very memorable character as they love, live and learn life’s lessons,  The book does not pull any punches regarding the social and racial discrimination that the family endured. through each generation. I felt that this book read more like a memoir than a book of historical fiction in that I didn’t feel that there was a particular plot… That said, I enjoyed reading about the colorful, divergent and individual family members.
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Really not my cup of tea.  I wanted to take a chance and see if this would be something I could enjoy.

Half way through I was done.
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What a freaking gorgeous book. I legit couldn't put it down and the characters of Luz, Diego, Maria Josie, and the rest of the characters will stay with me for a while. This has me looking into our history and I'm so proud to have Kali Fajardo-Anstine as a writer of our community. Her writing keeps getting better and better. This story was majestic and cinematic. You felt like you were there alongside the characters even feeling the air and vibes around them.
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Very well written and lyrical story of a multigenerational family. Primarily Mexican/Indigenous but touched by the melting pot nature of U.S. society, a history of strong Women and the societal and romantic challenges they face. An element of inherited prophecy through Luz, the main character. Vibrant portraits of a number of fascinating people amid the changes wrought by time in early 20th century Colorado,
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Woman of Light is a multi-generation saga following several generations of one family. Primarily centered around Luz “Little Light” Lopez, (age 8 at the beginning and age 18 at the end). Luz can read tea leaves and, as her skills develop, she begins to see into the future, or the past.  With time, she may grow into her nickname and become the “light”. “When she first learned to read tea leaves, Luz’s mother told her that there was one every generation, a seer who keeps the stories."  Her brother, Diego works when he can find work and trains rattlesnakes. They are of Indigenous and Mexican descent. Together they had to leave their Indigenous homeland in the Lost Territory, and seek out their mother’s sister, Maria Josie. 

The story alternates between The Lost Territory in 1868 and Denver in the 1930s. It focuses primarily on the women of the family and is filled with the hardships of poverty, the love of family, the struggle to survive, prejudices, swindlers, violence, love and community. Beautifully written. I loved the authenticity and emotion that the author brought to the characters. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Publication date: June 7, 2022 Thank you to #NetGalley and #OneWorld and #KaliFajardoAnstine for this free copy in exchange for fair and unbiased review.

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Beautiful and brutal book. It follows the lives of outcasts out West at the turn of the century. It is heart-breaking to see how people were treated. I loved the characters and how their stories intertwined. The ending leaves you wanting more!
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I will write a proper review soon, but I wanted to say thank you in advance. I met Kali back in 2018 at Kweli in NYC, right before her first book came out. She gave us the short story class at Kweli, and I've been a fan ever since. Her love for what she does and the excitement she displayed over all of our work and being together was breathtaking. I know this book will be just as amazing as Sabrina & Corina and can't wait to read it. Thank you thank you thank you!
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I really did not get on with this book. The prologue was amazing: moving, evocative, intriguing. It pulled me right in to the story, and almost made me cry--it was that good. But then once we got on to the actual book it was all very lackluster. By far my biggest issue here is the writing. It does not read smoothly at all, and it made the task of getting through this book so difficult. If I had to describe it I would say it was very stop-and-start, clunky, and fragmented. It just didn't flow, and it basically prevented me from engaging in this novel at any level. On top of this, I just found the narrative itself so dry. The plot moved very slowly, and I felt like the story was just going nowhere even though I kept on reading. Overall, I just didn't think this came together as a novel for me.
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Beautifully written a family of strong women told through generations.of one family in the American WestI was drawn right in to the family their lives their strength.Will be recommending sad to see it end.#netgalley #randomhouse
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I was surprised to read the author's bio at the end of this book, full of awards and accolades, because the book is just kind of meh. The characters lack depth and interiority and are often stereotypes (Diego the lover, sleeping with every woman he meets; David the shady Jewish lawyer; Mickey the Irish drunk). The protagonist, Luz, is like a damp rag--she's passive and easily maneuvered by others, has no strong opinions, no interests, only her talent for reading tea leaves and then lying to people about them. The book is also riddled with typos, mostly of homophones (due for do, fair for fare) and a lot of creative or nonstandard usage whose meaning is not always clear: a "skimp dog" sticks with me.
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DNF. I really wanted to like this book and was attracted by the subject matter but it read like a middle grade novel and I was ultimately too put off by the writing to finish.
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I had such high hopes for this book.  The area of the West was an interesting one that I had visited often before, there was an map and a family tree printed in the front matter, both of which I like from a graphics standpoint as well as a nerdy love of detail one.  The characters were introduced slowly, with some jumps in time to the next generation.  They were somewhat interesting and had some magical powers that made life colorful.  They were hand-to-mouth and trying to get along in a white man’s world.
I had to stop reading after 13% of the book.  I tried to give it a good chance, but after reading other reviews saying that the plot was threadbare, I had to agree.  The exposition of life from a very small character’s point of view was interesting but didn’t sustain my interest as little of consequence happened.  And the continuing anger of the women towards the men, while perhaps justified, made it into a didactic screed after while.  
I was suggested to read this book and provided the ARC by Random House and NetGalley for an honest review.  Publication date is June 7, 2022.
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Oh, I loved this bold multi-generational saga so much - my only complaint is that it was too short! I wanted more of the snake-charming Diego, more of the sharp-shooting abuela, more of Maria Josie and her friend Ethel. I think it's the sign of a great book when you can finish it wishing you knew more about all of the characters. Loved it.
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This was a beautiful multigenerational book that will be loved by historical fiction readers. It is very character based and the characters are written perfectly. There was a lot of struggle and loss but there was also just so much heart and love. I genuinely felt connected so strongly to the main character and couldn't put the book down because I just had to know how things worked out for her. It focuses mainly on the struggles of growing up as a girl of both Indigenous and Mexican descent in the early 1900s. It really showed how the connection of family and community can help get through and bring hope in even the hardest of times. 

I absolutely recommend this to the historical fiction lovers out there. 

I was provided with a copy if this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I have to be honest - I didn't love this book.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly why, as there are so many persuasive aspects of this novel. Kali Fajardo-Anstine has set up a story in "Woman of Light" that covers several generations of a Native American family, with a focus on the women and their roles in the family. She rotates between the past (the late 1800s) and present (the 1930s) in Denver, Colorado and sheds light to how the characters across these years ultimately tie. The bulk of the story is in the present and focuses on Luz "Little Light" Lopez, a young woman who is struggling to make a life for herself and dealing with a number of struggles that her race and gender bring her during this time period in America. Her talent, the ability to read tea leaves, plays an integral role in her life as well, especially as it begins to morph into something stronger.

What I struggled with, however, is the character development (or lack thereof). Luz remained a fairly one-dimensional character for me, and a number of her decisions later in the novel that bring her loyalties and morals to question made it even harder for me to understand and empathize with her.  Also, while I typically enjoy these multi-generational stories, I found it difficult to keep track of the characters that get introduced throughout, which made the storyline even more confusing for me. While this novel raises some pressing issues, especially in the present day, it wasn't one I was able to fully enjoy.
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I am the biggest fan of Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Her short story collection, “Sabrina and Corina,” is one of my favorite books. I cannot remember the last time I was this excited to read a book, and, while very different from her short story collection, “Woman of Light” did not disappoint. 

This historical fiction novel takes place in the American West (more precisely Colorado) in the late 1880s through the 1930s. It’s a multigenerational story, going back and forth between our protagonists’ grandparents and herself. Our protagonist, Luz, is an almost-eighteen-years-old tea leaf reader who lives with her Tia and brother, Diego, in Denver. The novel illustrates the importance and power of ancestral storytelling. And the ending… it’s good! While this is historical fiction, many of the obstacles and issues that Luz and her family face are still relevant today. 

Once again, Fajardo-Anstine has left my speechless. I will be eagerly waiting for her next book!  Until then, I will be recommending these books to students and reading her in classrooms! 

Thanks to Net Galley and One World for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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WOMAN OF LIGHT by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a sweeping novel following multiple generations of an indigenous Chicano family in the American West at the start of the 20th century. 

Luz Lopez is a tea leaf reader and laundress in the city of Denver while living with her brother, Diego, a snake charmer, and her aunt, Maria Josie. When Diego is run out of town for his involvement with a white girl, Luz’s struggle to survive becomes ever more difficult. Her visions - of both past and future - reveal both her ancestors’ dreams and how those hopes were dashed against the stony powers ruling the West. 

🌟 What I loved: The multiple historical storylines were well crafted, especially as they accelerated towards each other, and created a sense of mystery and suspense. Fajardo-Anstine does such a tremendous job of portraying an entire community - not only the indigenous Chicano community of Denver, but their interdependency with the Filipinos, Greeks, and others. The characters are sharp and strong - I particularly loved the women, like Luz, Simodecea, Maria Josie, and Lizette. They seize life on their terms, as much as is possible given the obstacles that stand in their way. And the writing is just blazing good.

✨ My only wish was for a little bit more! The ending closed things up a bit quickly for me, and I would have loved a touch more time for the emotions to fully develop. 

Like many others, I was a huge fan of Fajardo-Anstine’s short story collection, SABRINA AND CORINA. In WOMAN OF LIGHT, the novel length gives even more time for her writing and character development to shine, and I loved the richly researched historical setting.
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This was an intriguing book filled with Native American/Mexican history, myths and habits.  I was entranced with the clever way the author used Luz’s ability to read tea leaves as the way to understand the story and timeline.  The imagery is amazing, the characters loving and caring in difficult situations, side stories of love and seduction, faith and theaters.   Important historical fiction about Native America as they moved into life in the Denver area.  I did have to go back through the book a bit to pick up on all the tea reading signs that led to Diego’s daughter in the ending and to really grasp the author’s skill in naming her characters so that they breathed life even in their names.  Even if you’re not typically a fan of western literature or history, this was a story well worth reading for it’s depth of characters, love of human nature and skilled writing.
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Unique, moving, and intriguing! I loved this story about generations of the Chicano women. I found it very interesting to read a story set in the Western part of America. I haven't read many stories set in this setting, so I found myself wanting to learn more as I read. I will be reading more from this author!
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This explosive novel explores five generations of one family, in which each generation includes a "seer" or "story teller."  We actually learn of the family's past through the visions of Luz, a young woman who spends her adult live in Denver in the 1900's.
The novel is often so descriptive as to be "raw," gripping the reader with its innovative style and tone!
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