Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
Woman of Light is a beautifully written story of unity , adversity, and the struggles of the Lopez family in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Kali perfectly cascades the past and the present together until we see a meeting point for the family. I would 100% recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?
The story encompassed historical fiction with some ethereal aspects, and brought to life the hardships of life in Denver under the pressure of prejudice. It was heart-wrenching, entertaining, and captivating.
Was this review helpful?
This was an absolutely amazing story! I was hooked from the beginning. I loved the family and cried several times. Absolutely recommend this one!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
Pre-order this book now. That's how excellent the novel is with its vivid characters, immersive setting, and intriguing storyline. The author is one of the best storytellers of her generation. 

The blurb: "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."

This novel is amazing. I read the book in three days because it was so well done. 

This is a novel about family and how they navigate life in a time of poverty, overt racism ( KKK), and the family's love for each other. The characters are distinct with their motives, and their lives are expertly woven throughout the five generations of Indigenous and Mexican American women (terms of that time). The multiple timelines are easy to follow as the chapter headings are labeled. The descriptions of Denver and its surrounding areas in the late 1800s to the 1930s were remarkable. I've been to Denver several times, and the descriptions of the streets and old buildings put me right back in the area. 

If you enjoy sweeping historical fiction, family sagas, especially set in the Southwest, I'd highly recommend this novel.

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an e-ARC of this novel.
Was this review helpful?

I don't usually read books like this one but I am so grateful that I did. This came across my radar as one of the most anticipated books of 2022. I fell in love with the storytelling right from the beginning. It is historical fiction so unique in its arc spanning from the 1800's through the 1930's of an ingenuous and marginalized people. It mostly takes place during the 1930's in Denver, Colorado. The heroine of the story is named Luz and she is lovingly called little light. She was eight years old when her father Benny desserts her family of four and her mother Sara is destroyed that Benny desserts the family. They lived to the North of Denver. Luz and her brother Diego are sent to Denver to live with their mother's sister who is their Aunt who works in a glass factory making mirrors.

Luz reads tea leaves and her brother Diego is a snake charmer. I didn't like reading about his rattle snakes. There is a scarce amount of food and Luz does laundry with her cousin Lizette. They are very close like sisters. As the two girls grow older Lizette gets a job with a seamstress who will make her wedding gown. Lizette is a talented seamstress who sews her own clothing. Luz gets a job in at law firm with the son of their grocer. Diego is sent away after being beaten badly by a group of Anglo's.

There is a hopefulness in the writing that permeates this story. They are from Indian and Spanish and have their own community. Its prose is beautiful and the landscape with its colorful descriptions and imagery seem like its own atmospheric character. Although the white people known as Anglo's are avoided because they are bigots and racists. The KKK are ever present, but these Indian-Mexican people have dignity they are noble and this is a story infused with love and warmth. It isn't at all depressing at anytime as these characters are living hard lives but find happiness and joy within their own heritage. They are hard working and know to avoid trouble. They live in poor conditions and at times I felt angry as there were places with signs posted to keep them from entering certain places. I never knew that the Spanish people were treated as racially cruel as I know that Black people have been and many ways still are segregated and not treated as equals.

I was drawn into this story and witnessed things that I feel ashamed to be white to know that racism divided Indians and Mexicans as well as Blacks. They were kept to the West side of Denver and the way this award winning Author developed these characters they never felt less than and thrived even though times for them was tough. They witnessed crimes against their people but eked out an existence that rose above their abject poverty by being a cohesive people who never once felt sorry for themselves. This is a beautifully written novel that could have seemed if written in lesser hands lacking the magic that these characters seemed to possess to do the best they could and rose above their poverty and triumphed. This was Unforgettable and is a Favorite unlike anything I have ever read. I highly, highly recommend that everybody put this on your to be read list. Powerful and Original! I am anxious to read this award winning Author's first novel and will definitely read anything she writes in the future. This is a true gem and a diamond in the rough!  I LOVED IT!

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

A Huge Debt of Gratitude to Net Galley, Kali Fajardo-Anstine and Random House Publishing Group-Random House One World for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#WomanofLight #KaliFajardoAnstine RandomHousePublishingGoupRandomHouseOneWorld #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
This book follows five generations of a Chicano family in the American west. I love the intimate details of the characters minds and family histories. It felt a little slow in parts and I wish repatriation was expanded on, but overall I really enjoyed the story.
Was this review helpful?
Woman of Light is overwhelmingly beautiful. Every single smell, feeling and story will take you on a vivid wrenching journey. Kali weaves in her roots into her writing in the way all story tellers should. Kali's writing will linger in your soul.
What an honor to read her book.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a beautifully written historical fiction novel. I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. The story was very engaging and the detailing was fantastic. 
 This is a multi-generational story set in the backdrop of the western lands of the US.  And the author did a great job discussing the awful treatment of the native and indigenous during the time period.

I think this is a must read especially for those who enjoy historical fiction.
Was this review helpful?
Fajardo-Anstine is a beautiful writer. The prose is almost poetic and feels warm to read. She weaves a beautiful and heart-wrenching intergenerational story. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, though I sometimes struggled to remember when in time various chapters were happening, which meant it was hard to keep the details in order. Also, having grown up in Denver, I always smiled at references to Denver landmarks that I’m familiar with almost 100 years later.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely LOVED this book. I wanted to keep reading and reading, but intentionally slowed down because the writing was so beautiful, I felt it needed to be savored. 

Primarily set in the 1930s in Denver, the story follows Luz, and her Indigenous Chicano family, as they navigate life in the American West. Readers are also taken back in time to trace multiple generations of Luz's family and how decisions of her ancestors play a role in her life now. 

I adored Luz as a character and appreciated her strength and determination. There were so many excellent characters, specifically the women of the family, throughout the entire story. While I don't live in Denver, as a born and raised Coloradan, I thoroughly enjoyed read about what the city and the region was like during that time period. 

This was a beautiful, moving, triumphant story which I will not soon forget. Kali Fajardo-Anstine is an automatic read author for me! Thank you again for this wonderful story.
Was this review helpful?