Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

This book blew me away! I was unable to but it down. Perfect, dazzlingly, very well written. The details the author described throughout the book was so amazing. The  characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
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Taking place from 1868 and into the heart of the Depression, this is a multi-generational historical novel of an Indigenous Chicano family.

The main character, Luz Lopez, is – among other things -- a tea leaf reader. As such, she is the keeper of her family’s memories and stories. 

The author provides the reader with fabulous characters, and there is a great deal of historical detail of which I was not aware (e.g. early radium mining in the Lost Territories; the KKK’s strength in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado in the late 1920s).

Luz and her family live with hope and joy, mostly coming from within their own community, even though the past and present are not without fear, sadness, and loss. 

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read some absolutely grand historical fiction.
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Woman of Light is a story about a lot of things, not the least a history of Denver, Colorado. The story of that part of the country--overrun as Americans moved west, building train tracks out to wherever they might dig something valuable out of the ground--is as sad as it is interesting. Telling the tale through the eyes of a young woman coming into her own life as a mixed race orphan whose beloved brother was run out of  town by the family of a white woman he fell in love with (and impregnated) is an excellent device that brings out the best and the worst of the times they reflect.

Luz is at loose ends after her brother Diego gets beaten to a pulp by his girlfriend's brothers. She has little money, and few prospects until she gets hired at a local law firm to do office work. Thing is, the lawyer there, David Tikas, while good at his job prosecuting the killers of another young Mexican man, isn't so great at keeping his hands to himself.

Luz struggles with a lot of things--money, relationships, the demands of her cousin's upcoming wedding--but her name means "light" and that shines through as she comes to the conclusion that while she might be  physically drawn to older man David, and be emotionally charmed by her local suitor Avel, she doesn't need either of them to feel fulfilled. 

Woman of Light is Magical Realism lite but more importantly, it's lush, sensory storytelling -- so much so that you can practically smell the air in the poor areas of Denver where Luz and her family live, taste the food they eat and feel the rough pine floors of their houses against your feet. While it provides yet another sad history of white people taking what wasn't theirs and punishing anyone who wasn't white, it also proves the power of family bonds and love in the face of daily adversity. It's a great book for anyone interested in the history of Denver, the stories of the native peoples in that part of the country, and in the story of a young woman who experiences her family's history in way that at first seems strange and scary but later gives her the strength to survive.
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This isn't the type of book I would normally read, but it is so well written with a historical fiction base that drew me in.  Heat breaking and uplifting at the same time, it can be difficult to read.  Very compelling.
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Woman of Light 
Kaili Fajardo-Anstine

Beautifully written historical story of characters woven together out of survival, pain and a deep bond.  Luz, Lizette, Maria Josie & Diego each found a place in my imagination invoking sadness, anger, curiosity and gratitude for sharing their journey with me. Luz’s gift, I believe carried pain, insight, and independence that kept my interest through-out reading.  Luz is a survivor. Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to be transported to a life I may not have felt or known until reading this difficult journey.
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A wonderful multigenerational story of a Chicano woman and her family.  Love, prejudices and family loyalty are at the core of the story.  Characters had lots of depth spanning several generations.  The history for each character was doled out throughout the story in bits that gave the AHAA moments to unanswered questions.  Luz, the main character stayed true to herself and follows her heart, she never looses herself.  I really enjoyed the segments regarding Luz and her visions while reading tea leaves, a gift inherited from her grandmother.  Historical fiction fans will love this one.
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A beautiful novel about how stories make us what we are. Kali Fajardo-Anstine has created a cast of characters that spans generations from 1868 to the early 20th Century, people whose heritage includes Pueblo, Mexican, French, making their way from the “Lost Territory” to Denver. The story begins with the ancestors, a baby abandoned by his birth mother and raised by the “Sleepy Prophet,” who discovers the baby, essentially adopts him and teaches him the ancient ways. He grows up and moves North to create the family whose descendants now inhabit the "wild west" of early Denver, and whose lives are constantly challenged by bigotry and lack of opportunity, but enriched by strong family love. 

I found myself caring deeply for these people, especially Luz, “Little Light,” the great granddaughter of the Sleepy Prophet who inherits the ability to know what is not seen. The narrative follows Luz and her cousin Lizette who bravely face the challenges of not being Anglo in a bigoted society, terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan. With every turn of the page I felt trepidation about what would happen to these young women and the people they love, and while they experienced loss, they overcame and prevailed. It is a captivating story, poetically written, and one I highly recommend.
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Woman of Light is a family saga told across interspersed timeframes. The book explores the effects of trauma and racism and reckons with an ugly truth in America.

While I greatly appreciated the point of view of the novel, I found the middle of the story to drag. At a time when I wanted to really connect with the character of Luz, the continued timeline jumps pulled me out of any sort of character bond. However, the last 40 pages packed a punch.
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A multigenerational book about an Indigenous and Mexican family with the lead character being a girl named Luz. Strong connections between the generations, especially the women.  People are not who you think they are. The importance of remembering the past and the will to move on.
Thanks to NetGalley for a copy.
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ound this book to be interesting, but quite slow. It took me a long time to get into it. I found I kept reading bits and pieces and it couldn’t quite grip me like I wanted it too. 
I found the setting interesting and I liked the back and forth to different time periods. I enjoyed the multi generational aspect to this book. I thought bringing in historical news was also fun. Like Bonnie and Clyde. 
I just wish this one would have had a little bit more. I found the characters lacked some depth, especially the main character Luz. 
I hate giving not so great reviews, but unfortunately this one just wasn’t for me.
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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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