Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

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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A beautifully written work of historical fiction set in the American West from 1868-1933. There is so much depth here as a multigenerational Chicano family drama with a touch of magical realism. I love a good character driven novel with dual timelines and I learned so much from this one. This is my first time reading this author and it won’t be my last!


Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for the complimentary ebook!
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I received a free e-arc of this book through Netgalley.
It has a lot of back and forth and sometimes it is repetitive because of visions that the younger generation has of the older generation that we already heard about, but it all ties together into a generational story of endurance. There is a lot going on in this book so you need to read it when you aren't distracted by other things. I liked that the female characters were pretty badass.
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I loved the descriptions in this book. The author has a beautiful way with words, without seeming like she's trying too hard. I was a little confused for the first quarter of the book, but once it got moving, it was a good read. Luz's ability to see things and the layout of the book around this sight was a little fuzzy to me at the beginning. I enjoyed the rest of the book enough that I'd read it again just to see if I missed something that would connect the dots better for me at the beginning. With the nonlinear timeline, I think reading it in hard copy might be easier so you can flip back to the beginning of the chapters to check the dates. 
I was invited to read a prepub copy of this lovely book in return for my review. I will absolutely read more from this author.
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I'm disappointed to say that I really just could not get into this book. It was a very slow read for me because it just did not catch my interest until close to the end. As a result, I don't have much to say in the way of a review. I'm giving this 3 stars because any less would imply that it was bad and it wasn't, it was just average in my opinion.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC.
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I took a quiz on one of the book sites about what historical novel I should read next, and "Woman of Light" was the recommendation. And, you know? It was completely right.

Luz Lopez is one of the women of light in the story. She's the third generation of Native/Mexican women covered in the story, which is set in Denver at the first half of the 20th century.  She lives with her aunt, Maria Josie, and brother Diego in a Denver tenement near the stockyards. They do menial jobs, with Luz reading tea leaves and Diego charming charming snakes (imagine!) at street fairs to make a little side money. It's the Depression and fortunately they live in a community of diverse friends who help each other along. Luz has always had a good eye for the tea leaves but now that she is reaching adulthood, her readings sometimes come with visions, like those seen by her great-grandmother the Sleepy Prophet. The book dips lightly into the story of Luz and Diego's abandonment by their parents, and by their mother's loss of her parents. The notion is dropped that there could be more to this saga, with perhaps another book to come.

That would be great. Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a very good writer who tells a good story and there are plenty of intriguing characters in "Woman of Light" for her to follow. The setting is unusual and appealing, the cast of Natives, Mexicans, and Greeks well developed and people you want to learn more about. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the DRC of this engrossing and enjoyable read.
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Luz Lopez lived with her brother Diego and her Aunt Maria Josie in Denver in the 1930’s. Luz reads tea leaves and does the laundry of the rich with her cousin Lizette but after her brother is run out of town by a violent white mob, she is left to fend for herself as she tries to help keep her and her Aunt afloat. As she starts a new job as a secretary in a law firm, Luz begins to have visions of her ancestors’ origins in her nearby Indigenous homeland, Lost Territory. She sees the hardship and sinister forces that have devastated her people for generations. It’s up to Luz to keep her family stories from disappearing.

This is an exquisite multigenerational book that is so captivating it transports you directly into the scenes. Kali Fajardo-Anstine writes such vivid descriptions of the landscapes and settings that when Lizette was getting married, I could practically taste the food the women were making in the kitchen. Fajardo-Anstine is a wonderful, mesmerizing storyteller.

Woman of Light is a story about family, love, loss (lots of loss), and keeping both your story and your family’s story alive so it’s not forgotten. Through the eyes of Luz, we see the treatment of Native and Indigenous peoples as settlers and other white immigrants move further and further west across the country. It’s hauntly heartbreaking and some of the images will stick with me.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction; especially ones with Indigenous history and family sagas. This story will possibly break your heart a bit, but there is so much hope and love within the Lopez family that even in the end, you’ll be glad you met them.

*Thank you Netgalley and One World Publishing for an advanced eBook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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It’s family saga, without feeling the drag that sagas can feel. It’s allegory of the settling of the west, with truth-telling of the stealing of land from people continuously displaced. It’s a peek into the lives of traveling performers and the struggle to make enough to live. Mostly, it’s the story of a family in Denver, headed by strong-willed tía Maria Josie, who takes in her niece and nephew after her sister’s mental health crumbles with the abuse and abandonment of her husband. Diego, big brother to his sister Luz, tries to be a provider, but after getting caught up with an Anglo girl, is beaten and has to flee town to protect his family from persecution. The pressure is then on Luz to help Maria Josie keep them afloat, and the narrative follows her for the majority of the time as Luz finds work, navigates complicated social and romantic relationships and sees into the future. A gifted tea leaf reader, Luz’s visions speak into both the future and the past, collapsing the effect of time. It’s a beautifully apt gift for this character, which compliments Fajardo-Anstine’s seamless movement back and forth in time, giving back story to other characters. 

The writing is cinematic, (and I think this may have already been optioned as a film). I flew through this book, which is not my typical approach with historical fiction. There’s so much richness and history here. I appreciated the honesty about the entrenched racism of the west— history that gives light to its origin (and it’s persistence today).
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