Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

This is a wonderful multi-generational story, told through various, alternating timelines. It is beautifully descriptive and often tragic but filled with hope. The book follows one family's journey throughout the American west through the late 1800's to the mid 1930's. It is told through the eyes of Luz, of both Indigenous and Mexican descent as the seer of the Lopez family, and the keeper of their stories. The history of the family, its courage in adversity, facing multiple obstacles throughout the years, and the love that resonates through the generations makes a memorable, character driven book! I did receive a complimentary copy from Netgalley, and I am very glad I did.
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This multi-generational novel takes place in the American West in the late 1880’s to the mid 1930’s. It tells the story of Luz “Little Light” Lopez and her extended family. The family, which is of both Indigenous and Mexican descent includes Diego, Luz’s snake-charming brother, her lively, gay aunt Maria Josie and her sharp-shooting grandmother. Luz herself is a tea leaf reader and seamstress, trying through grid and determination to navigate the family through tough times. The characters are colorful and the historical context especially interesting. Many of the issues Luz and her family encounter – especially racism – are still relevant today.

While I liked this book, I didn’t fully connect with the characters. In my opinion, the book would have benefited from a bit “more” - more story and more character development. The book ends abruptly and, while I can appreciate the end, I wished for more about Diego and his return to Denver. Once Diego was no longer engaged with the family in Denver, I thought the book struggled a little. Luz’s cousin Lizette was not as interesting to me as were Diego and his snakes, and Luz’s “magic” was never fleshed out to the extent I wanted. All in all, though, this was a well-written piece of historical fiction. I would recommend it if the time and place sound at all intriguing.
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a beautifully written character driven novel. Its full of heartbreak but also beauty. The ending felt abrupt and was too open-ended for me though.
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Woman of Light by Kali Fajardi-Anstine tells the story of Luz, Pidre and the history of the Lost Territory and times in Early 1900 Colorado. I’m really not sure why it’s called Woman of Light. There is one chapter that has the title but there isn’t a connection or explanation. The story did not flow for me. I frequently had to stop and remember what year and the main character for that chapter. I was interested in Luz’s visions but that story line didn’t seem to go anywhere. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters. With the starting and stopping of the chapters and characters it was hard to get to know them. Not sure I would recommend this book. Thank you for allowing me to review this book.
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Woman of Light has tremendous potential for initiating great and needed examination of how Indigenous people have been, and are, mistreated and harmed on their native land.  I found the multigenerational story to be effective at conveying the enduring impact that prejudice and racism has over time and within families and also simply appreciated the development of family relationship themes.  The story will feel familiar perhaps because sadly many know, or are learning and listening, about mistreatment of Indigenous people in the not distant past (and today).  Familiar, predictable even to some, does not mean we should ignore the story being told.

I wanted to LOVE this book not just because, or simply because of, the attention to marginalized voices and identities but for me the writing style just did not engage me in a way that lead me to want to keep reading and returning to this one.  This does not mean the book is not good in terms of ideas and potential and attention to important themes but it does mean that a lot of what I was hoping to enjoy and write about here are hard to give attention to because the exposition did not work for me.  At times the writing was a bit too "young" for me and though I do not mind a YA book or simple writing, this style did not serve here the content and goal of the plot and story telling.  I got lost in some of the choppiness of the writing.  Others will not notice or be bothered by the writing and I want to encourage examination of this book by many different readers.

What I did love was the honor shown to birth/bio parents, all too often people can see themes with adoption/parental absence as negative without honoring or seeing that often the decision to leave a child in another person's care or to cut off contact is an actual decision of love, faith, and sacrifice. I noticed early in this book that this was a tone and language used to talk about these themes and truly this matters, I appreciate the power of these words and this part of the writing.
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Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a historical fiction novel that takes a multigenerational approach. Different stories from different generations of the main character's family weave together to create a magical novel.

As someone who doesn’t read historical fiction often, this novel was one I was cautious about starting. With other historical fiction I’ve read, I’ve found the content too dry for my taste.

This wasn’t the case with Woman of Light. From the first paragraph in the Prologue, I was hooked. Fajardo-Anstine’s writing is lyrical; her pacing nearly perfect. The description she gives of every setting in Woman of Light made me truly feel as if I were actually there. I could picture everything so clearly.

There was only one thing in this novel that I didn’t care for. Some of the paragraphs seemed a little too long, and because of this, some of the wonderful descriptions and character interactions got lost in the sea of words. Sometimes, there would be two or three different things going on in a paragraph that didn’t really mesh well.

Overall, an excellent read, and something I’ll be re-reading in the future!

*This review has been published/posted on GoodReads and Instagram on March 9th, 2022. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!*
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Ughhhhhh this was SO SO good! The characters, the plot, the family dynamics, the landscape-it's all brilliantly done. Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a writer to be reckoned with and this book exemplifies that for sure! I loved every minute of this book and would recommend it to anyone that will listen.
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Luz "Little Light" Lopez is a young woman of Indigenous Chicano heritage, coming of age in Depression Era Denver. It was a time fraught with many struggles and conflicts, over wealth and race among others. Through her eyes we meet her friends and family and experience the lives of the marginalized working poor, struggling daily to make ends meet and snatching joy in the little things such as a rare day off from work or a party to celebrate a birthday or a wedding. 

As the novel progresses, we learn in brief snatches the history of the Lopez family going back to Luz's grandfather Pidre. It is not an easy history, as there is tragedy and heartbreak going back for generations, primarily as the result of conflict with the "Anglos" taking over their lands. 

Based on the novel summary these glimpses into the past are supposed to be visions Luz is having, but that wasn't really clear to me in my reading of the book. Another criticism would be how as I was reading I kept waiting for something to happen. Yes we learn about the tragedies of the past and Luz has her own struggles, however the novel still felt like it lacked a main conflict, and I was left feeling unsatisfied with the quickly wrapped up ending. 

I do still recommend this to readers who enjoy historical fiction and new viewpoints on our nation's fraught history, especially from POC. 

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the electronic ARC copy of this novel for review.
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I had high hopes for this from the beginning of the book and usually love multigenerational historical fiction, but it was really disjointed and hard to keep track of where and when things were happening.  I loved the history and diversity of characters of the Indigenous Chicano families of the West we met and think that there is potential with the story, unfortunately the writing and jumping back and forth didn't work for me.  Thank you to NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I was so excited to be offered a chance to read this book pre-publication in exchange for an honest review because the description sounded wonderful and right up my alley.  I love historical fiction, mental talents like ESP, and also reading about diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Unfortunately, this was not to be and I nearly stopped reading on multiple occasions.  I only finished due to a sense of obligation.  Does Fajardo-Anstine write in another language that had to be translated into English?  If not, I can't think of any reason why there is so much misuse of words, which do not mean what the author thinks they mean.  And I am not referring to the many typos I found in this apparently unedited manuscript.

Another very annoying literary tic is the author's constant, (and I mean in almost every other sentence, descriptions of smells and odors, some of which no one human ever thought to describe before.  Given all those irritating issues, I had next to no interest or belief of the major characters. (I did, however, relate to the peripheral stories of people discriminated against and abused because of their race or ethnicity.)

The description led me to believe that Luz had a genetic ability to read tea leaves and foretell the future.  On one occasion she even used coffee grounds. There was so little of that talent written about. No, again and again there were the odors, noxious and nice and often never before smelled and described.  And also again and again the awkward phraseology that drove me (an English Major, BTW) totally bonkers. Oh, and Luz's brother is a snake charmer.  How?  Why?  Is this also genetic?   And how, exactly, does one determine the sex of a rattlesnake?  

The author's background and literary awards might make me think that I somehow missed the merits of this novel.  But I don't think so.

Sorry to have downloaded this ARC, and sorrier even to have read it to the end. That was an end? Her brother came home, all healed?  Her Aunt in a satisfying lesbian relationship that did not lead to a better ilfe?  Luz's own apparent lack of a decent future? Well, at least it was over.
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WOMAN OF LIGHT-Kali Fajatdo-Anstine
Historical fiction spanning 5 generations of a Mexican family of the southwest, set mainly in the Denver of the 1930s with flashbacks to their previous history. The main character is a young woman-Luz-who has inherited the ability yo read the tea leaves and see the future.
There ix racism, and love, and the struggle to survive a threadbare existence, but honestly, the book just didn’t “ hit” me. It has received rave reviews, but frankly I found the writing awkward, many of the characters stereotypical, and the ending manufactured.
Sorry, this read was not for me.
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Woman of Light is a richly layered, multigenerational story of the indigenous Hispanic family of Luz "Little Light" Lopez.  Set in the American west of Colorado in the 1930's, Luz a tea leaf reader, her brother Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, their cousin Lizette and aunt Maria Josie struggle to get by under the oppression of those that took their land generations ago.  As Luz begins to have richer visions, she experiences the stories of her ancestors, especially the strong women who came before her. She draws upon this strength to move forward and  provide for her family after her brother is beaten and run out of town.  She begins to work for the attorney/son of a family friend.  David takes a case representing the Ruiz family whose son was killed  by a police officer during an altercation, suing the city of Denver.  This is not well looked upon by the white citizens of the community.  Still, the Lopez family and their community do what they can to survive and move forward.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine has served us a story rich in the umami of the melding of strong women, long held secrets, love lost, heritage, racism and fierce determination.  Set Woman of Light on simmer and serve hot.
My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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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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