Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

DNF'd at 40%. This book was not giving me enough compelling reasons to continue, there was minimal plot and it was trying to juggle too many characters. The scattered non-linear timeline in particular was not serving the story the author was trying to tell. I may try to finish this at a later date as I was enjoying the writing. If you are a big fan of multi-generational historical fiction this may still be worth checking out!
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While Woman of Light does a good job telling a lush story that illuminates a lot of social issues, the characters don't come to life as much as what they are meant to share with the reader. That makes it feel like a good enough experience, but not one that will last with me as I continue to read other books.
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Fajardo-Anstine really is a great storyteller. This book is packed full of interesting ideas, and it’s hard to stop yourself from tearing through the book. The characters are well fleshed out, endearing. The structure of the book, with some chapters focusing away from the main character Luz, helped in creating an engrossing, captivating tale. However, the writing wasn’t for me. I found it to be a little awkward and, at times, overwrought. An example:

“Maria Josie inhaled quickly and exhaled slowly, watching her smoke turn inward on itself like time collapsing into the past.”

If you like this sentence, you will most likely enjoy Fajardo-Anstine’s style. Of course, not every single sentence is as lyrical as this last one, but the book certainly had its bouts. I didn’t mind it too much, but I didn’t love it either, unfortunately.

I also thought the ending was rushed, especially in contrast with the rest of the book, where I thought the pacing was perfect. It felt like the author was scrambling to tie up all of the loose ends nicely in the span of just a couple of pages.

I’m still curious to read more of her work, and will make sure to pick up Sabrina & Corina soon.
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Woman of Light is the new novel from Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of the fantastic story collection Sabrina & Corina. In it, we follow Luz Lopez, a tea leaf reader in the mountain west in the 1930's. She sees visions of both the future and the past. She is a complicated character who makes some interesting decisions throughout her life. The cast of secondary characters is well-fleshed out. There are moments throughout the book that are resonant with today's world in which certain populations are discriminated against and have difficulties advancing up the economic ladder. This period and place in American history is not often showcased in literature so I think fans of historical fiction will enjoy this novel. She is a special writer and I look forward to what she writes next. 

Thank you to Random House (One World) via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.
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A rich, enthralling story of family, history, social justice, and real-life magic, Woman of Light is filled with memorable characters and set beautifully in known and unknown areas of the Americas. A true work of art. 5 stars!
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Sadly did not enjoy this as much as the authors previous book of short stories. The timelines seemed to jump around randomly and the characters didn't feel fully fleshed out. Nothing made me feel particularly invested in Luz... I still think this was an ok book, but my expectaitons were so so high after loving her previous work as much as I did. A bit of a dissapointment.
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This is an emotionally heavy historical fiction about people of Indigenous/Mexican descent in Denver, Colorado. The main story takes place in the 1930s, though parts of the book go back to the late 1800s.  There is poverty, racism, cruelty. I learned that the KuKluxClan had a strong presence in 1930s Denver. This is also a story of strong family bonds. The ending doesn’t give any clear answers, but does give hope that these family ties will remain strong. Four stars for a well written story, rounded up from a personal three stars
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I really enjoyed this book. The story of Luz a girl born of Indigenous and Mexican decent. Set in the early 1900’s , in the West. Great book for those who love historical fiction and long for more outside of the wide variety of WW1 and WW2 books. Wide cast of colorful and interesting characters. I hoping for a part 2….. I want to know what happens next. Thank you to NetGalley And Random House for the ARC.
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I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I really loved this book. I thought the writing was beautiful, I found myself highlighting some standout sentences in my ebook. I loved the stories, the characters, the descriptions. 

I will say I did find some of the time jumps confusing at the beginning, I wasn’t very good about paying attention to the years at first at the  start of the chapters. But once I made a point to focus on that and what characters were in each section, the story came together on this really fantastic way. 

The first 10% of this was a little slow to start, but once I got into the story I couldn’t stop, and read it in about 4ish hours.

Highly recommend this one! I think it would make a great book club book, and it’s on a bunch of lists for best summer reads or most anticipated summer reads.

This comes out on June 7!
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This book was incredibly enjoyable for a number of reasons. Firstly, I work in downtown Denver (across the street from The Brown Palace-a location relevant to this story), grew up in the Four Corners (southwest Colorado and the Navajo Nation), and I am obsessed with New Mexico. As a result, the descriptions of places I know and love set in the 1930s and before, were very fun. Secondly, this book is a shining example of why representation matters so much in writing and publishing. Many people don’t realize that Colorado is a diverse place—and has been a diverse place. I loved reading about many diverse characters (and seeing the correct name of my tribe, Diné instead of Navajo). The descriptive writing is excellent, and I grew to love the characters (even the snakes, which is saying something for a Diné woman). Thanks to NetGalley for a chance to read an advance copy of this book. The content of this review is my own.
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A moody telling of the story of the west through generations of seers of Latin descent.  There is magic, and racism, stories of origin and transformation and an author with a unique storytelling voice to bring you fully into a world populated by a tea leaf reading laundress and her brother, a snake charming factory worker.  If that does not comport with your idea of the west, your presumptions will find the going difficult.  A unique approach to the viewing of the Wild West and its inhabitants.
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Thank you to Net Galley for an advanced copy in exchange for a non-biased review.. 
This was a nice read although a bit of a slow build. Living in Denver I really appreciated all of the historical references and the geographical accuracy. I love magical realism which there was a healthy dose of in this story. The characters all shines with a healthy mixture of vulnerability and strength but I did feel like I was not too deeply attached to any individual outcome. There were many things that I enjoyed about this story but sometimes felt like I was reading from a distance rather than fully enveloped in the story.
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I was swept away by the prologue of this book – the evocative setting, the beautiful language, the late 1800s time period, the mystery behind the characters. 

But we stay there only a short time and spend the remainder of the book in 1930s Denver with a different cast of characters (albeit endearing and interesting), but with only a slight connection to those introduced in the opening pages. 

Despite my desire to remain in the latter time period, I learned a great deal about the horrific inequities faced by Chicano/a and indigenous people in Denver during the 1930s (I was unaware of the KKKs deep presence, as well). But I confess… I wanted so much more of that first story! And much more of Simodecea’s story. And so, so much more to the ending.

I appreciated the clairvoyant aspects of the book, loved the bad-assery of Maria Josie, and one character’s connection to snakes. I I’m sure many will adore this novel and the easy flow of the writing, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of just wanting <i>more</i>.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Woman of Light is a historical fiction set in the early 1900s and spans multiple generations of an Indigenous Chicano family out west. What was most striking about this book to me was the vivid use of detail to set the scene for these places in history long forgotten as generations pass on. I could clearly see the picture in my head of the setting despite never seeing it in real life. The story itself was interesting and I quickly grew to love the characters. Their stories were well thought out and tug at your heartstrings. This is a must read for fans of historical fiction.
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Woman of Light is a Western Saga for readers of historical fiction. It focuses on an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West from 1868 in what is now New Mexico to 1934 Denver.

The Prologue begins in 1868 with Desiderya Lopez, the Sleepy Prophet, and Pidre, the abandoned infant whom she finds and raises as her own. The story then jumps to 1933 Denver where we learn of Luz, Diego, and their auntie, Maria Josie Lopez. The storyline goes back and forth in time as we find out more about Luz and her connection to her ancestors. There is a certain amount of magical realism with fortune telling, snake charming, and the ability to foresee the future.

This is a fascinating and hopeful story of an amazing family and how they supported each other and dealt with the many difficulties they faced, including racism against anyone who wasn't white.
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The stories of our ancestors can become lost or skewed by time.  In this multigenerational story of an indigenous Chicano family, we learn that their stories have be forgotten, by time or by choice. A member of the youngest generation, Luz has the gift of seer. Though her gift she rediscovers the stories that lead to her being. She in turns uses those stories to help write her own. This book is beautifully written, filled with interesting, complex characters, each one growing as layers of history are revealed.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this amazing book! I fell in love with Kali's writing when I read Sabrina & Corina. Ever since Kali mentioned about the release of this book, I couldn't wait to get a copy. I was so grateful and excited to have a chance to read this. I'll be definitely buying a copy of my own when the book comes out on June 7.

I love multi-generational stories and this one didn't disappoint. There was a strong sense of place and history throughout the book, but a stronger sense of identity of all the characters, particularly seen in Luz, Maria Josie, and all the other female characters. I loved that there was a magical feeling to reading this book and the generational stories in the book helped cement that feeling. I absolutely loved how the beginning of the book began; you'll know what I mean when you read it. It was such an immersive experience. 

Kali knows how to write about relationships, love, family dynamics, identity, and social issues/history and weave all of that into a hauntingly beautiful story. And I can't wait to read more from Kali!
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I usually read the same type of books and decided to expand my horizons.   When I saw this book I was immediately intrigued.   It is a multigenerational story about indigenous Chicano people.  I love learning about history and culture through fictional characters, and I this seemed like a great opportunity  

This story was told over 4 generations.   It shows you what it was like to be a Chicano in the West over the late 1800s and early 1900s.   We all know it wasn't a good time and they were not treated well.  This book gives you some idea of what went on in those times, and it was heartbreaking.  

With all that is going on these days, and the way that people are trying to surpress our children from learning about our history, books like these are important.   We should be able to learn from the past and do it better.  

What I liked about this book:   It was an important part of our history.  It was well written and I could visualize it all.  The main character was fascinating.   

What I didn''t like:  I found it a little slow- this book was all about the journey, not the destination.   I also didn't love how it bounced around from the past, to the far past to the present, to the past, etc..  I got lost a few times.  .  There were also a LOT of people to keep track of.     And if you have read some of my past reviews - my old lady brain cannot track too many characters.  

So how do I rate this?  I would give it 3.5 stars.    However, I think may be a better book than I give it credit for. - it just wasn't my personal cup of tea.  So I am rounding up to 4 stars.  

I want to thank the author, the publisher and #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review.
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Posting Location: Angry Angel Books (angryangelbooks.com) 
Link: https://angryangelbooks.com/2022/05/31/woman-of-light/(opens in a new tab)
Posting Date: 5/31/22

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Source: DRC via NetGalley (Random House Publishing Group – Random House, One World) in return for an honest review
Pub. Date: June 7, 2022
Synopsis: Goodreads

Why did I choose to read this book?

Over the past couple of years I have felt myself gravitating towards indigenous peoples’ stories, stories that span generations and history, stories that might be wiped from our memories if we don’t write and read them. Stories like The Seed Keeper, The Only Good Indians, or The Four Winds are perfect examples of this. I want to hear history from the people who were silenced. I want stories that show me what was really happening, or what the real consequences were, after significant events in American history.

So the multigenerational western saga that is promised here told through the eyes of Indigenous Chicano women with a bit of mysticism sprinkled in grabbed me by the eyeballs and demanded to be read.

What is this book about?

I finished this book and I don’t think I could tell you what it was about. It was a mish-mashed story that spanned four generations, set in the late-1800s/early-1900s, mostly in Colorado. The main character is Luz, and she is a seer – a once in a generation secret/story keeper who can also see the future if they have the right medium (Luz’s is tea leaves or coffee grounds, but she gets visions if the emotions or connections in other locations or items is strong enough). The book shows us where Luz came from, her lineage, and the trauma that has been handed down to her through her parents and their forbears. Overall the story tries to give you a view of what it was like to be Chicano in the American West at that time, and spoiler alert: it wasn’t very good or safe. The KKK even makes a few appearances.

What is notable about the story?

I have read books from the Carribean perspective (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, etc), from the African diasporan perspective, and the Native American perspective, among others, but this was the first book I had read that not only brought a story from a Chicano perspective, but a historical framing as well. The themes were the same as what you would expect from the institutional and aggressive racism that runs rampant in this country, but the approach seemed a little bit different. The racism wasn’t presented in all major events, it ran alongside the story, like it was embedded in it. It was a normal part of the characters’ everyday life, and in that way it made its effects appear even more threatening, more stark. Were there cross burnings and beatings and lynchings? Sure, but that wasn’t all of it, and I appreciated how Fajardo-Anstine helped the reader feel how racism is just…always there.

It’s an important way of telling this age-old story, especially when in the present day our government seems to have such a non-empathetic view toward any black and brown immigrants, even those who are seeking asylum. This is rooted deep in our country’s history, in our country’s expansion west, and in how we attempt to reinforce our physical and ideological borders on surrounding countries, especially those to the south.

Was anything not so great?

For a book set in my favorite region of the country exploring a group of people I haven’t read that much about (fiction or non-fiction) with this much trauma and racism, I expected to have stronger emotions or to feel more connected to some of the characters. I read the story to the end, so it wasn’t boring, but in the craft sense this was definitely plot-driven and not character-driven. The plot and setting of the story happened to the characters, they didn’t feel like they had much agency at all. And while I understand that this is a plot device, meant to make you feel the same way the characters would have in their own time, here it left me feeling like the entire story had just been swept away in a strong breeze. It was good, but it wasn’t memorable. The ending didn’t feel satisfying or unsatisfying, it just ended where it ended and there wasn’t more to read. I was actually surprised enough to say, “oh…that’s it?” when my Kindle suddenly reached the acknowledgements.

My only other gripe was how the chapters bounced around from recent past to far past to present to past. This made the first half of the book a struggle to read, because it switched so often there were too many people to keep track of, and if you weren’t paying careful attention to the chapter headings with the years, you might think you were reading about something happening in the 1930s but really this was the MC’s great grandmother in the 1880s or something. I was about 10% in before I realized that the story was even jumping around, and I had to go back and pay better attention. There may have been a more organized way of flipping between generations to make the pattern more predictable, but this book did not attempt anything of the sort. I don’t mind back and forth, but this particular story gave me some wicked whiplash.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads and I’ll bill this one as a “get it from the library, but don’t rush” kind of recommendation. It’s an interesting story and this topic is a blind spot for many, so you should read it if you’re looking for something to pick up that’s new in order to broaden your intellectual horizons. As a fiction novel you’re expecting to read for entertainment, it’s a good enough choice with which to fill the time.
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I have not yet read the author's earlier book, but I had heard such glowing things both about that and about this upcoming book, that I was very excited to read this novel. In many ways, I greatly enjoyed aspects of this book. I loved the female characters especially. Maria Josie was a favorite for me, though I enjoyed following Luz's journey, too. I loved the way the book talked about women's sense of wisdom and knowing. I also loved the beautiful language in the book - Kali Fajardo-Anstine has a beautiful way of writing. That said, I was more heavily invested in the plot much later in the book, and some of the early parts were slow to build. Fans of her writing will love this. I did want a little more from the plot, but I will read more from this author and am excited to see what she writes in the future!
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