Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

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!
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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WOMAN OF LIGHT
BY: KALI FARJARDO-ANSTINE

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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Woman of Light is a beautiful historical fiction novel sweeping across the American Mid-West. Kali certainly has a way with words and she brought this story to life for me. I loved being immersed in Hispanic heritage through the amazing depictions provided by this book. One thing I really loved is how the author intertwined the past and present through the MC, Luz.

Bottom line: this book is a beautifully vivid historical fiction novel and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of this genre!

Thank you NetGalley and One World/Random House for my ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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Woman of Light is a gorgeous novel. It is vivid in detail and reading it you feel like you are surrounded by the nature of the Rockies or amidst the grit of developing Denver. However, the skillful writing does not get too caught up in description, and the family narratives move swiftly. The level of attention to detail made it feel like a glittering history lesson, with human characters that shine through, touching on stories and issues relevant to Colorado, the US, and individuals in the modern world. I wanted more, and could imagine the story extending to descendants beyond Luz and the world of Denver in the 1930s, all the way up until today.
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Back in high school I was a participant to a youth program that allowed me to visit Denver, CO.  A metropolitan city surrounded by mountains and creeks. 

I was excited to read Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Sabrina & Corina knowing her stories took place in Denver and loved the introduction to the town she created, Saguarita. 

In Women of Light, Fajardo-Anstine makes nature a prominent character in the novel. From a sky full of stars to the scent of plantitas these elements drew me in and made me feel abuelita vibes teaching me the power of plant medicine. 

This novel takes you across timelines, locations from Mexico to Colorado. Reading through felt like time travel, taking a peak into history intentionally erased by colonizers. 

Women of Light centers women survival, love and special abilities. Women bring to the front intergenerational stories weather through the ability of vision or tradition keeping. 

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is one of my favorite writers for giving stories like these the place to be read and learned from.
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Woman of Light--a great book that not only entertained me, but expanded my perception of the western part of our country. Fajardo-Anstine writes about foundational people who have been erased from the history and literature of the West--Native Americans, Mexicans/Chicanos, Hispanics, and their interrelated descendants. Set in Denver and in an area named The Lost Territory, the story spans from the mid 19th century to the 1930s, and references to historical events are woven into the story. The first thing that struck me as I read the book and has remained with me long after finishing it, is the rich, striking imagery. The author can paint a picture with words. In some cases, it was more than a picture, but moving images. I could see certain scenes play out as if I were watching them on film. The second is that she has upended the stereotypical depiction of the Mexican grandma as silent and subservient. The Mexican grandma here is a professional gunslinger, a woman with agency and a voice. I think too often writers internalize stereotypes and unwittingly reproduce them. Here, Fajardo-Anstine does the opposite--she creates a world, one rooted in imagination, but also in history. This book is an original.
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A multigenerational story that has more heart than most people... 
Our character Luz is a brave, fierce one and her part in this story was phenomenal. 
All the characters were amazing and portrayed very well.
I loved all the period detail and the strength of the conflict and relationships. 
With vivid descriptions I was transported to a time unlike anything I ever experienced before. 
The story is so engaging, rich in detail, beautifully written and hugely absorbing for those who enjoy good literary fiction and historical fiction.
I wanted to keep reading when I finished this book.
That's how amazing this book was.
I was started yesterday and was up way too late finishing this one and I regret none of it!

Random House|One World,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
I will post my review closer to pub date.
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holly smokes another five star read for this AMAZING author!! the magic her stories bring are out of this world. i get chills thinking about Woman of Light. It took my breath away and made me cry. Our ancestors are PROUD for sure. thank you netgalley for the opportunity to read this magical book in advance. Kali is one of the best authors and a beautiful soul!!
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This is a beautifully painted portrait of a story. Luz is trying to figure out how to move through life as a Native American and Latino and all the discrimination that comes with that. She reads tea leaves and her brother is a snake charmer. 
Luz is just trying to figure out where she fits and how to navigate family and love. 
The descriptions of the landscapes are very vivid and beautiful. 
A must read for 2022! 

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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Woman of Light is an immersive, multigenerational story about an Indigenous Chicano family, primarily spanning the early 1890s through the early 1930s. The main story, in 1933 and 1934, focuses on Luz Lopez. Living in Denver with her aunt and older brother, she’s already been working for years despite being only 17 years old. Between reading tea leaves and working as a laundress, she does what she can to keep her small family afloat. Her brother, Diego, is a snake charmer in addition to his day job. One day, Diego has a tragic run-in with some violent people, and he’s forced to leave town. Without his income, Luz looks for better work and ends up getting a secretarial position at a law firm started by a longtime family friend.

Interspersed between her chapters, we also get glimpses of the lives of her ancestors. In the late 1800s, in the Lost Territory (the southwestern areas of the United States that was previously part of Mexico), we get to know Luz’s grandparents, Pidre and Simodecea. Later, we also get a look at her parents’ generation, including her mom Sara and her aunt Maria Josefina.

While reading it, even once I’d read a significant percentage of it, I found it hard to explain the plot of Woman of Light. There isn’t a strong end goal for our characters. In some ways, it feels more like a slice of life, following Luz as she comes of age. Her story arc revolves around figuring out who she is, what she wants in life, and what her ambitions are. Part of this comes in the form of her new job as a secretary. Another part focuses on her romantic relationships, including her first boyfriend and the older guy she once had a crush on. There’s a bit of a love triangle there, and Luz makes some questionable choices. What will she learn or gain from these romances?

A major theme within Woman of Light is the racism Luz and her family face on a daily basis. They’re Indigenous and Chicano, and both their physical appearance and their Spanish language put them at the receiving end of bigotry and racism. It can be seen in Luz’s limited job opportunities, her being barred from even applying for roles in the more affluent, white neighborhoods. It’s obvious in the mob of racist men who attack Diego and cause him to flee town. And now that Luz is working in law, it’s woefully present in the lack of justice people of color see when a racist cop kills a man and gets away with it. In this book, we see the harsh realities of racism and hatred. We see the KKK marching through the Denver streets and feel the fear our characters feel. It’s hard to see it so overtly here, but although we’ve made progress in the past century, racism is still all too prevalent today.

These are also working class characters, living paycheck to paycheck and lacking savings when emergencies arise. Luz and her family had to drop out of school early on so they could work. Their limited educations – coupled with the racist barriers in place – make it difficult for any upward mobility. It’s by luck and being owed a good deed that Luz forges a better opportunity, with increased pay and even a chance at some further education. Though my own life situation wasn’t nearly so dire, I was poor growing up, and I always like reading about working class characters and identify with them much more than middle or upper class ones. Here they take center stage, offering an intimate glimpse of what life is like when you’re poor and marginalized.

But Woman of Light also depicts joy and love, too. Luz’s cousin Lizette is about the same age, but she’s at a completely different place in terms of love. Over the course of this novel, Lizette dreams about marrying her boyfriend Alfonso, and although money is tight for them all, she works hard to finally be able to afford a wedding. Maybe Luz isn’t quite there yet, but there is hope for her yet. Perhaps there is hope for Diego, too.

Woman of Light is a beautifully written novel, filled with immersive descriptions of the landscapes and cities and earnest portrayals of resilient characters. A note at the beginning of the novel described the author’s writing as vivid and movie-like, and I would have to agree. You can see the images in bright color as you move through the chapters, making the read that much more impactful.

Even if I find it difficult to describe Woman of Light in only a sentence or two, I still found it to be an engrossing and delightful read. This is Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s first novel, though she previously published a short story collection, Sabrina & Corina. I plan to read that soon, and will eagerly await her next publication. For now, mark June 7th on your calendars, because Woman of Light is a novel you’ll want to read once it’s out later this year.
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