Member Reviews

I loved this multi generational Chicano family saga set in the late 1800s. I loved how descriptive the writing was, and I loved the elements of tradition, history and magical realism. I cared deeply for every character on these pages, and I think this will be a fabulous summer historical fiction read. The setting is The Lost Territory, which becomes Colorado, I believe. The landscape descriptors are stunning, and the family relationships are beautifully intricate. I absolutely recommend this one!

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I thought this book was very poorly written and couldn’t continue. Thank you for giving me a copy. I won’t leave a bad review anywhere. Best of luck.

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This is a story about family, love, and survival. Just when the story grabs you, it changes to another generation and you wonder why the story began this way. However, you soon realize that this is a multigenerational story that floats back and forth between three different generations trying to show how they are connected. A bit slow until about 3/4 of the way through, there are also parts where details are remiss which leaves the reader wondering about what just happened.
The main story takes place in the West in the early 1900’s. Luz and Diego, live with her aunt Maria Josie until Diego leaves town after being beaten by an Anglo mob. Luz and her aunt struggle to survive and not get evicted. Maria Josie has her own story of struggles and survivals and we are only given hints but not the full story. Luz reads tea leaves and has the ability to have visions about others and those connected to her from her Indigenous past. Racial tensions run rampant in her town and unfortunately her life has been filled with some joy but mostly struggles. We watch as Luz comes of age, learning to make her way and place in a divided town.
I felt the story ends rather abruptly, having no resolutions. It made it rather confusing. Some characters are well developed and others too obscure. Interesting to read to learn about this time period in our history but a bit disjointed.

Many thanks to #netgalley #womanoflight #kalifajardo-anstine for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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I usually really enjoy historical novels, especially when they are about indigenous people and have the added intrigue of a power such as tea leave reading. However, this book just didn’t hit the mark for me. I found it to be disjointed (as others have commented, it seemed like short stories). I found the ending to be rushed and would have liked to see more story development following the fire and Diego’s return
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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The entire book I was "waiting for the other shoe to drop." There is an ominous sense to the whole story. The bigotry, racism and poverty are well displayed. The novel well-developed these themes and I was made aware of yet another time and place in history which so well exhibited "man's inhumanity to man".
Set in the early 20th century and the 1930's around Denver, Colorado, I got a good feeling for the era. Certain portions of the setting were very descriptive: I could easily picture the law office, the theater in the cavern and the later city of white tents that surrounded it, the hall cleaning closet.
The main character, Luz, is followed from early girlhood to almost 18. While I found myself drawn to her character, I did not understand all her motivations. Unless that was the author's point, one being following youthful impulses can change the direction of your life. The more sympathetic character was Lizette, just a year older, but oh so much wiser, even though appearances may have predicted otherwise. Lizette was a nice foil to Luz. The strength exhibited by Simodecea and Pidre, Luz's grandmother and grandfather, and Avel, her fiance, added to the story's interest and were well-drawn. Other characters in the book appear as mere stick figures.

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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for providing me a copy of this book for my honest review. This is the most unique historical fiction novel I have ever read. It has a touch of magical realism in it as well. This book was a multi-generational book that really was very character driven and focused a lot on family. The setting is in America in the Southwest during the 1880's-1930's. The setting and time frame alone set this book apart from most historical fiction novels. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this part of American history. If you enjoy multi-generational historical fiction with a touch of magical realism then you will love this book.

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I am always looking for historical fiction that expands our scope of history instead of telling the same stories about the same people in the same places. This story centers an Indigenous Chicano family in Colorado and vividly brings to life both the natural world of the western territory in the late 1800s and 1930s Denver. And Fajardo-Anstine's characters are just as wonderfully drawn. Ultimately, this book is the coming-of-age story of Luz Lopez, but I would have happily read a book centered on any of the characters dancing around her -- and in some ways, it is just as much their story.

The book is written in episodes, jumping back and forth in time, and you can see in this structure Fajardo-Anstine's talent with the short story form. But here, she proves she also can weave together stories to form a touching, compelling long-form narrative.

My one quibble with this book: I wish it were longer. I wanted to know what happened to Luz. She comes into her own and then what? I'd have read another 200 pages, at least, about this family. And I trust Fajardo-Anstine would have used the space to make her characters even more nuanced and finely drawn.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

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Woman of Light is one of my favorite types of books; historical fiction, family saga involving multiple generations. While I liked the story of Luz and her family, I never fell in love with the story or any of the characters. Each section read like a short story and for me the whole thing never quite came together. I cared enough to keep reading but I wasn’t really invested in it. I find myself able to put this book down for real life without giving it a second though. The descriptive language was beautiful but something overall just fell flat to me.

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An immersive, multi-generational story of an indigenous family. Beautifully written, this is a story with richly drawn characters that was a pleasure to read.

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The descriptive words and phrases of this book immediately draw you in. The storytelling is center of the story and the other is just that, an amazing storyteller.

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Once again, Kali has not disappointed me with her writing. Woman of Light was a master piece.

Woman of Light was a multi-generational story that was set in the 1930s. It was a book with many struggles but also so much growth. Any Historical Fiction fanatic will absolutely enjoy this read.

Thank you NetGalley for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

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This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. The beautiful, almost painterly language of this lovely novel swept me into the story of Luz “Little Light” Lopez and her family as they establish their presence in the streets and neighborhoods of 1930s Denver. This subtle coming of age story unfolds through the lives of Luz, her brother Diego, their aunt Maria Josie, and their community. Luz is a tea-leaf reader, and as the book progresses, her visions develop to convey the history of her parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Thus, the plot develops through a colorful and richly descriptive collective of family stories, and readers experience the saga through a revelation over time, much like they would had the stories been passed down through a family’s oral tradition.

Denver is my hometown, and the picnic scene likely took place about a half mile from where I live. So I was drawn into the accounts of familiar streets and neighborhoods. I was equally immersed in the city’s history as the author presents it from the perspective of those who inhabited the Westside and who struggled to survive the bigotry and violence inflicted upon them because they were not white.

By the end of the book, I was deeply affected by the dignity and strength Luz’s multi-generational family sustained despite the calamities and hatred they endured. The story never became melodramatic, and it's clear the author trusted her characters because she allowed them to tell their stories without commentary. Ultimately, Woman in Light is an uplifting and truly beautiful tale of the power of the human spirit.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House One World for providing me with an advance copy of this book. My review is voluntary and reflects my honest opinion.

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This was a good historical fiction book about early Colorado history. I enjoyed it for the most part but I felt it could have had a more cohesive plot . It felt no more like a bunch of short stories than a cohesive whole .
Thanks for letting me review the book to Netgalley and the publisher

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Women of Light is a beautiful multi generational story set in the American West during the late 1800's.
I was totally drawn in reading the prologue.
Loved the connections between generations, especially the women.
A non white historical fiction point of view and female focused on the events taking place.

Thank you NetGalley and One World/Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

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I wish to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Random House One World for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book. I have voluntarily read and reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This review is very difficult for me to write. I read the book completely but never actually got involved in the story. The setting is between the 1880’s and 1930’s in western Colorado and primarily in Denver. The reader is introduced to a Chicano family and I found it to be interesting and the characters were different. The story introduced lots of personalities but for some reason I just did not connect with them. It was not the story I thought it would be. It is a multi-generational fiction supposedly about a young woman who had the gift of sight and the talent of reading tea leaves. Mostly in the book she reads coffee grounds not tea leaves. Not sure why. Her story goes back and forth as you met her family members and her ancestors. She grows up in a rough setting trying to survive poverty and prejudices. The main character suffers much loss. Nothing seems to go right for her.

I rate this one with 3 stars to be middle of the road. I do have to say this was just not a book for me.

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This was a beautiful multigenerational story centered mostly around 1930s Denver with some flashbacks from earlier 1900s. I really enjoyed exploring Luz’s family history through flashbacks. The trauma characters faced were both real (unfortunately) and heartbreaking.

The author does a great job pulling you into the scenes with her vivid descriptions and imagery. I could almost smell the food that was being cooked in many scenes. This story really highlights the struggles that Natives faced during the time period and there is a lot of truth surrounding what these characters experienced which makes this an impactful historical fiction.

This is a beautiful story and I will highly recommend it when it’s published.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for an ecopy!

This exact review or similar will be posted to my Bookstagram (bookishlyshan) within the next week or so and I will reshare my post on publication day.

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Woman of Light
by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

This is a story about immigrants, both legal and illegal, as well as Americans of Mexican/Spanish descent all living in Colorado and trying to capture the American dream.

The author accomplishes two good things in this book; she fully describes the insular Hispanic culture which thrives as a means of mutual protection – from ICE, from Anglos, even from each other, and also she describes the spiritualistic side of the Spanish/Indigenous/Black culture which believes in second sight, foretelling dreams, herbal medicine, etc.

Luz – the Woman of Light – has "the sight". This is primarily her story and that of those who are part of her life. She believes that her gift has been handed down from her grandmother and ultimately wonders if she will pass on the gift to future generations.

This book gives the reader much to think about what life is like for those who are not "mainstream" Americans.

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Set primarily in Denver, CO in the mid-1930s, Luz Lopez is a 17 year old laundress living with her aunt and her older brother. The small family is scraping by, until her brother driven out of town by a white family. Luz has always had the gift of reading tea leaves, but over time her second sight grows and she begins seeing not only recent events, but also events that shaped the lives of her ancestors.

Farjado-Anstine masterfully brings to life the people of places of the story.

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Woman of light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, follows the Indigenous Chicano Lopez family, at the heart of which is Luz, Little Light, Lopez. Readers see Luz come of age in a difficult time in America. It is the era of Great Depression, and Luz watches as her family and minoritized community are mistreated and objectified (at best) and terrorized with violence (at worst).

The book opens on a sad note. Luz’s brother, Diego, has to flee his town and his people, leaving Luz and the aunt who raised them, Maria Josefina, in a financial bind without his income. Dispite this, there are deep wells of joy all over this novel.

Readers encounter beauty and kindness in Luz’s lovely cousin, Lizette, who can sew any garment and who is rooted in her understanding of where her life is, where she wants it to go, and who she wants to spend that life with. There is gentle Pidre Lopez, Luz’s visionary grandfather and open-air theatre owner, who builds a parish of performers who recognize and celebrate each other’s differences. The characters and the happiness they exhibit are #goals

This is not to say that the difficulty of life is not acute in this novel. Readers will marvel at the ways in which the more things change, the more they remain the same, especially as it relates to the role of the police (term used loosely) toward the minoritized. In addition, most of the community that inhabit Luz’s life have ended up in Denver due to some form of displacement – through deportation, threat of violence, or that oh so subtle and dangerous form of dislocation: gentrification. Much like things are today.

Showing that history is repetitive is the part of writer’s intention, I think. That and to educate about how history impacts and is seen in a different context when the same story is told in a different voice.. Luz, with her ability to glimpse the future and the past, serves as a conduit who examples how and why she inhabits her space in the way she does. Fajardo-Anstine’s story-telling makes readers think about how a person may have ended up where they are, about how a person ends up being who they are through ancestral and historical contexts.

For those of you who like generational novels like Book of the Little Axe, pick up this book in early June.

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Woman of Light was a really good read. In some ways it felt like a bunch of short stories smooshed together to make a larger book and that was a little dissatisfying in some ways, but it was a great book.

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