Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

A beautifully written multi-generational family saga.  Pidre, is abandoned outside of the adobe of "The Sleepy Prophet" as a baby.  Luz "Little Light" Lopez is the grandaughter of Pidre, who is now living in a very segregated part of Denver with her aunt, Marie Josie, and her brother, Diego.  The story flips mainly between Pidre and Luz's story with occasional chapters from other family members.  

Pidre must make a life for himself once the sleepy prophet dies.  He decides to buy an outdoor theatre and entertain the people of Pardona.

Luz and her family are trying to make ends meet in Denver where they are not welcome.  Diego performs snakes shows, Marie Josie works in a mirror shop, and Luz does laundry for the wealthy Denver residents. With all their money pooled, they still cannot afford the rent on their small, rundown apartment.
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I feel like it isn't fair for me to rate this book so I'll give it a middle of the road three stars, but I found it very hard to follow along and stay engaged while reading. I was really looking forward to this one because I loved her previous short story collection.
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A descriptive western epic of sorts, this mystical story was a reasonably easy and beautiful read.

MV Rating: 6/10

*Set across multiple time frames, and with many supporting characters, Luz receives visions of her family's past journeys through time on the western frontier.
*As with many westerns, the terrain and overall feel of the story is purposely bleak - but the scenic descriptions of the land and Luz' family kept me engrossed from the beginning. 
*Although I found the time jumping to be somewhat confusing, as it wasn't immediately obvious how the characters were connected, each "jump" reads like a detailed vignette; you really get the impression of looking through doors into each time frame before jumping to the next.
* I was so impressed with the descriptive nature of the author's writing style - you really feel like she's writing in her own history here, and think fans of "The Ballad of Love and Glory" will also find this to be a quick favorite!
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Forthcoming review from Library Journal. But in the meantime, I'll just say that this was... a bit disappointing. Feels like its building to a fever pitch, a simmering pot of a novel that builds tension and then turns off the burner. Just kind of falls into its ending with little shape or force. A lot of good stuff here, but eh.
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Luz is an unforgettable character; Fajardo-Andstine's writing is beautiful and the women in her stories come alive. There were minor characters that weren't fleshed out enough for me to follow their stories with the same care.
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#Review - Woman of Light ✨ 

This story follows five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family American West. 

It breaks my heart to say that this one disappointed me. The story, characters, setting — all so special and had so much potential, especially the 1930s chapters. What lost my interest was the writing style and the strength of the connection between the time periods. It felt very jumbled. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Wowowowow this was absolutely stunning. It took me a second to get into the story, but after I did I could not put this book down. It is something extremely special and resonant.
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Really, really beautiful. More westerns about indigenous people and women and POC!! I’d never read a saga like this set in the American West and it really hooked me and wove together all the plot lines  beautifully.
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What a refreshing piece of work. Five stars!

Fajardo-Anstine takes the reader on a multi-generational trip through the plight of indigenous people in Denver in the early 20th century. Parts of the book were heart breaking, of course, as much historical fiction in America is. I really felt like this was a fresh perspective that hasn't been over done in current media. I wish some of the storylines were covered in a little more detail, but I feel like that happens sometimes in multi-generational stories.
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Given the place in time we are in society, I did have some trouble reading this. It felt very heavy in places. The characters came off the page and I felt very connected to them. Which is also why it was difficult. I loved the writing and story.
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Luz and her brother are living in 1930's Denver.  They come from the Lost Territory and when Luz starts having visions of her Indigenous ancestors, she comes to understand her own life as well as those who brought her to Denver and raised her as best they could.  There is so much heartache in the hatred of those who conquer the land.  But Luz is able to carry forth her family message of love and resilience through these visions and find the courage she needs to live her fullest life.  

I appreciate the look into the lives of these people.  Again, it's heartbreaking the struggles so many in this country have fought through, but I always appreciate seeing stories of overcoming them, not just sinking into despair.  While there was so much possibility in this story, it did fall a little flat for me.  

Thank you to NetGalley and One World for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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In the Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, readers are transported to the West in this early 20th century, multigenerational story of a Chicano family in the Lost Territories. Told in a non-linear style, the story focuses mainly on Luz who lives in a small apartment with her aunt and brother in Denver in the 1930s. Her brother Diego is a snake charmer and Luz can read tea leaves and has visions of earlier generations, becoming the torch bearer of her family’s story.

With that gorgeous cover and such an enticing synopsis, I wanted to love this book so very much, but I just did not. It begins much like the premise promises, but then very quickly becomes a disjointed tale where the magic just sort of dissipates into thin air. It read like a series of short stories where our protagonist made some very questionable choices against a backdrop of racial tumult during the cusp of a very transformative period of time. There was just a quick glimpse into the stories of the women of earlier generations, then the story would drag readers through Luz’s attempt to decide between two suitors. The ending read like a fever dream from one of the minor characters that only added confusion to the story. The prose was often beautiful, but overall it was very difficult to grasp the intention. I wanted more history, cohesion, and of course, magic. 

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review.
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Thank you to Random House/One World for my ARC of Woman of Light, as well as my Libro.fm ALC!

Pub date: 6/7/22
Genre: historical fiction, family saga
In one sentence: Luz “Little Light” Lopez is a laundress struggling to make ends meet in 1930s Denver when she begins having visions of her ancestors.

I love a family saga, so I had to read this book! I fell in love with Luz and her family from the beginning - they experience discrimination and poverty at the hands of the white upper class, and Fajardo-Anstine captures their determination and frustration so poetically. The story jumps around to show perspectives from multiple generations, but Luz is the anchor point. Some readers might be bothered by the perspective and time shifts, but I really enjoyed them. I think the changing perspectives speak to the fact that life is circular, not just linear, and I saw the commonalities of the Lopez family members' experience because of this structure.

This book reminds me of The House of the Spirits given the magic of Luz's visions and the generational ties. If you enjoy family sagas, give this one a try! Both the audio and text were excellent. 4.5 stars rounded to 5.
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I really enjoyed this multi-generational read. I loved the Indigenous/Mexican theme/characters. Myself, being part Mexican, can really enjoy books like this. I loved the 3 narrations, Luz, her mother/aunt and her grandmother. I enjoyed seeing the connections even though they never got to spend too much time together. Luz is a very likeable character and easy to root for!
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A story that follows Chicano women in the Southwest, primarily New Mexico and Colorado from early in the century into the 50’s.  Each women had their own story to tell.  Luz, the last, read tea leaves and told fortunes until she could begin to see the future.  I was particularly struck by the racism that existed in the Southwest back then.  Denver at that time was similar to the Jim Crow South that we know more about.  There was a white side of town and a Chicano side, the KKK was active and you had to be careful.
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An engrossing, character-driven story of three generations of a Mexican-American family. I liked how the story bopped around leaving it to the reader to fit the pieces together. The ending was a bit unsatisfying in a way that’s hard to put my finger on. Nonetheless, I recommend picking this one up, especially the audio.
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Summary;
Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Review: I enjoyed this multigenerational book. I found that the characters were compelling and over all the pace of the book was a bit slow.
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I requested this title because I had read the ARC of Sabrina & Corina in 2019 and loved it.   I am appreciative of the opportunity to read this new novel.

In Woman of Light we meet Luz Lopez, an indigenous Chicana, who reads tea leaves.  Her brother, Diego, is a snake charmer.  Both are being raised by their aunt. Maria Josie, while navigating 1930's Denver.  We learn about Luz's life and those of her mother and grandmother. through her gift.

This intricately woven story of past and present shows the discrimination that native peoples and Mexicans had to navigate much like black people living in the south.  Diego is beaten within an inch of his life and run out of town by a white mob  because he dared to date a white woman. Luz discovers of many unreported crimes while working for a Greek communist lawyer

Luz learns about life, love and lust as she tries to find a place for herself in the world.  In the end she finds hope when Diego returns and together they claim the next generation from the local Catholic home for women.
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Woman of light
I really wanted to love this book and maybe that’s where I went wrong. I had expectations that were too high and so the book fell flat (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

This multi generational story introduces us to Luz, her family and friends, and the challenges they faced in the segregated US. The overall plot was semi slow paced, but still engaging enough that I finished the book (and actually enjoyed the plot twist at the end). The underlying theme revolving segregation and how that impacted their lives definitely left me uneasy throughout, so a solid job there. I think what fell flat to me were the supporting characters - we got a peek into Lizette’s (Luz’s bff), Alonzo’s, David’s, Avel’s, Maria Josie’s, and Diego’s life, but we didn’t learn enough to fulfill our curiosity about them / get too attached to them. However, big ups to the author because she did a really good job at giving that feeling that you get after you hear your parent go off on a tangent, telling a story of folks they once knew a very long time ago en el cerro de la Atalaya.

I would recommend this book to folks who enjoy tales of the past, that leave you wanting a bit more, but give you juuuust enough. Thank you to NetGalley and One World for the ARC!
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Loved this one! I'm not really one for historical fiction, especially when it follows like multiple generations and you have to spend half your time figuring out how they connect, BUT I really enjoyed this story. Every character felt so visceral and real to me and despite the fact that some characters have bad qualities about them you never really grow to loathe them - which can sometimes put me off a book! I can't wait to check out more of Fajardo-Anstine's work in the future because her voice is truly so lyrical and complex, even when it seems simple. Definitely recommend this one
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