Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

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Member Reviews

“Every sigh is breath stolen from life.” ~ Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Woman of Light

Woman of Light is a multigenerational western saga of an Indigenous Chicano family. The book opens in the Lost Territory of New Mexico where Pidre Lopez, a Puebloan Indigenous person, settles in Animas, Colorado, where he runs a Wild West Show.

The author the moves to 1930s Denver, where Luz “Little Light” Lopez, discovers she has clairvoyant gifts and reads tea leaves to help her aunt, Maria Jose and brother, Diego, a snake oil salesman and womanizer pay the rent. When her brother is run out of town by a white mob for dating a white girl, Luz is left to fend for herself.

She uses her family connections to land a job as the secretary in a law office, where she finds herself in a love triangle with her attorney boss and a young mariachi musician. White Supremacy groups violently attack the law office because the attorney represents the downtrodden and underrepresented.

Meanwhile, Luz is having visions that transport her to her familial homeland in the Lost Territory. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

I read this book by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (National Book Award finalist for Sabrina & Corina), in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. I found it to be underdeveloped with a skeletal backstory about the family early in the book. The author’s writing style didn’t keep me engaged, but I found her characters to be noteworthy. The synopsis sounded like it would be a fascinating read, but for me, it was just okay. It is clear the author has talent, though, so I’ll try her again. 3.5 stars.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I really wanted to love this generational story of women. Their strength and integrity kept these women going. They all were dealt such hardship and heart break. 

I just wish there was more on the visions and tea readings.
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Another work by Kali Fajardo-Anstine that I adore. A moving multigenerational, multiple POV, nonlinear story from a time in American history that I don't often visit. Despite this being a fictional story, I learned so much, In my ignorance, I had no idea how diverse the American West was/is.
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Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a moving tale of the strength of indigenous women throughout several generations. Luz Lopez and the women in her family are all highlighted through the story of their history and perseverance. The book is written in two time periods through Luz's visions and I enjoyed seeing how the Lopez ancestors shaped how Luz dealt with her current situations. The book does address many triggers such as racism, sexism, violence, and abandonment.
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Woman of Light by Kali Gajardo-Anstine

Woman of Light was just okay for me. It was written very well however I had difficulty staying interested in it. The story follows Luz who is a tea-reader of Indigenous Chicano decent, and her family's trials and tribulations, survival, love, complexities, and secrets throughout the years. All in all, I would rate this three out of five stars.
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When an author finds your soul and captivates it. I cannot express how much I liked this book. Strong female characters are my life source.
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“That was a dangerous state—the line between the living and dead collapsed—and only evil could come of it.”

Very unpopular opinion here apparently but I struggled with this one. It has such amazing reviews so I always wonder if I’m missing something when I don’t connect with a book in the same way that others do. The writing was beautiful but the story just didn’t grab me. I found myself not thinking about it once I stepped away and not feeling that pull to even care about what happened to the characters. 

But every book is not for everyone and I am always reminding myself of that. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Random House Publishing, and the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Woman of Light was one of my most anticipated books of 2022. After reading Sabrina & Corina in 2019 and LOVING it, I was impatient as I waited for Kali Fajardo-Anstine to publish her next book. It was well worth the wait.

Woman of Light is a historical fiction, coming of age novel that takes place in Denver and follows Luz, a young woman who reads tea leaves. Alongside working and dating, Luz is dealing with her brother Diego, getting run out of town, and is reflecting on her Indigenous homeland, her ancestors, and the discrimination people of color are experiencing in Denver.

I loved the historical aspect of this book. The 1930's is such an interesting time period to read from. Fajardo-Anstine was not afraid to tackle important topics like the racism of American libraries and hate crimes. Fajardo-Anstine does an excellent job of celebrating Denver and its multiculturalism, but also not hiding its history of white supremacy by exploring how dangerous and unwelcoming Denver could be for people of color. 

Besides what felt to me like an abrupt ending, I really enjoyed this story. There is a slight love triangle I didn't care for but it felt true to Luz and her youth.
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I really enjoyed this one, a great story, definitely would recommend to anyone who was interested in reading more by indigenous authors as it shows a different sort of indigenous story than many books that people typically think of and recommend.
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1930s Denver resembles a city not too far removed from the era of the Wild West. At the height of the Great Depression, the city became a magnet for people of all backgrounds looking for work and opportunity, which was met by a fierce backlash from the city’s growing Klan population. At the center of this tension are Luz and her older brother Diego, who has recently been forced to flee Denver after he impregnates his white girlfriend. Just shy of 18, Luz finds a job as a secretary in a Greek lawyer’s office who has made a name for himself representing people who have been abused by the police and the Klan. Interspersed throughout this story are chapters dating back to the late 19th century featuring three generations of Luz’s ancestors. Readers experience the trauma that runs deep in Luz’s Native American and Mexican family as their rights and land are taken from them with the westward expansion of white settlers. I picked this book up after seeing it recommended by Ann Patchett. A western multi-generational historical saga is fairly different from the books that I typically read, and I enjoyed getting to see what life was like in Denver and the Lost Territory of Colorado in an era not too long ago. I did feel that the book was not as literary as advertised, equating Luz’s relationship challenges with the actual hardships and traumas experienced by her ancestors.
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Woman of Light is a great coming of age story of Luz, an indigenous woman growing up in 1930s Denver, Colorado. I love how, throughout the book, her family's past is woven into and shapes her understanding of the present. In Luz's case, it is through her gift as a seer, but I think we are all given glimpses into our family's past in different ways as we grow and begin to piece together the stories we create of ourselves. More broadly, although this book is fiction, I felt like it was an extremely insightful and honest look into Denver's deeply segregated past by casting a rare light on an early urban Indigenous experience.

I'm thankful to have been given the opportunity to read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and cannot stop recommending it to all readers interested in the West.
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Woman of Light is the story of Luz and her family, a story that keeps happening still in this time and age, an everyday person here in the United States still living the same situations as Luz and her family racism, prejudice, and more especially if you're Chicano, Mexican or you have dark skin.

Woman of light is a story that takes place in different years starting from 1868, to 1933 and so on. Luz comes from a family that has the ability of sight, most of the women n her family have this ability. For generations, this gift has helped them so much but now it seems like nothing can save them from the Klan atrocities.

Luz and Lizzet are trying to live their lives and make everything they can to help their families but all they encounter is racism, and rejection even Diego, her brother had to endure many atrocities for liking a white woman, the amount of suffering and rejection luz and her family live are incomprehensible and very sad. and at the same time, it was very refreshing to see the power Luz need to be able to help her family. 

I cry so many times with this book, I couldn't understand many of the terrible behaviors in some of the characters but in the end, Luz was a light at the end of the day for many.

I really enjoyed the clairvoyant part of the book it made it even more intriguing.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the advanced copy of Woman of Light in exchange for my honest review.
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3 stars rounded up from 2.5

Sadly, I just felt “meh” about this book. The timeline bounces back and forth but most of the story takes place in 1934 in Denver. We follow an extended family, centered on two cousins, Luz and Lizette. I never warmed up to either of them or Luz’ brother Diego. Their aunt Maria Josie was a more interesting character by far but we don’t get enough of her. The flashbacks to past generations were good but were told in small bits and pieces. 

The author makes clear that Denver (and the rest of the general area) was not a welcoming place for those who weren’t Anglo (white). There are scenes with the KKK and many establishments have signs saying “No Mexicans, blacks or gooks allowed.” A very ugly part of American history. The advertised tea leaf reading was a very minor aspect of the book. 

Thank you to NetGalley and One World for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book, although I’m late to it. All opinions are my own.
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LOVED THIS BOOK.  I want it to be a series, but also don't think any others could be better.  Magical, emotional, and dark.

ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, but the opinions are by own.
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Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Woman of Light is a beautiful family history beginning with The Sleepy Prophet of Pardona Pueblo to the Fourth Generation of the family consisting of Luz (literally the Woman of Light) who reads the future in tea leaves and her brother Diego, a snake charmer.  While the story is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude which also follows generations of a family using magical realism, Fajardo-Anstine’s novel goes farther by showing race discrimination over time.  I particularly appreciated the author’s focus of race discrimination in Denver since it is a history which is only now being openly discussed.  My only criticism is the use of alternating chapters between past and present which early on drag the story down, but then the story moves to resolution much too quickly in the last 10% of the book.  Overall though, novel succeeds on many levels and engages the hearts and mind of readers.  Highly recommended!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an early ARC of this book.
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The author, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, comes from a long line of storytellers and she honors those who came before her in her latest novel, Woman of Light. The novel is a multigenerational family saga centering around two main characters, Luz and Diego, who find themselves in a hopeless situation and have to move to Denver in the 1930s to live with their aunt. While there, one of Luz's side hustles is to read leaves (tell customers their futures) and Diego is a snake charmer. Her family before her resided in the Lost Territories and had lives that are described as vividly as Luz and Diego's.
Fajardo-Anstine brings this novel to life in sensory-rich details. She has the ability to paint a picture and leave the reader wanting more. I am never put off by books that switch from the present to the past, especially when I get a clearer view of the whole story.
It's hard for me to read historical fiction that has so much truth behind it because it hurts to see how ignorant and unfair people can be to one another. I am always hoping, searching, and turning the page for a positive ending or outcome. This novel definitely has some moments of heartache, just like real life. However, it also illustrates unconditional love, perseverance, mysticism, courage, and hopefulness.
I enjoyed this book and overall found it well written. There were times, however, that a storyline would abruptly stop and I would question if the character would act that way or wonder why the story felt disjointed at that juncture.
Overall, Woman of Light is a lush, immersive historical novel worth the time to read.
*A special thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
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Woman of Light follows a young woman, Luz Lopez, in 1930s Denver as she experiences visions of her past ancestors in the Lost Territory while navigating her own adult life.

Honestly, the title, the description, and the cover all looked blah to me. This was not one I was dying to pick up, but I’m glad I did. Kali Fajardo-Anstine has a gift for writing narrative that I just didn’t want to stop reading. I would absolutely pick up another book by this author.

That said, there were some flaws that made this a good book rather than a great book. While I appreciated that the different time periods and narratives of different family members added suspense to the story, it also made it difficult to follow. There were also scenes that didn’t feel true to the period, such as a proposal scene and wedding scenes. They felt as if they were in modern day America, not 1930s Denver. The ending also left me confused, underwhelmed, and wondering what just happened.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced copy!
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3.5 stars.
Following several generations of a woman’s family, Kali Fajardo-Anstine tells a tale of deep connections, bigotry, identity, and the history of Denver.

Luz, whose family is at the centre of this story, lives in bigoted and segregated Denver. Luz has visions of her ancestors, and we get vivid stories of her family's past, and how they came to be in this part of the world. In the present, Luz works as a secretary for a lawyer.

The glimpses we get of Luz's relatives were fascinating, and actually, I would have loved more time spent in these scenes. I also felt the transitions to the past and back were a little confusing.

I found it actually a little hard to connect with Luz; Luz has terrible taste in men, but I'm not sure if I disliked them mainly because of how slight their characterizations were. That aside, I really like the relationships Luz had with her friend Lizette and her brother Diego. 

I went into this book with high hopes, and though I loved many elements, I was not as entranced as I was hoping to be.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Random House Publishing Group for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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Thanks so much to the publisher and to NetGalley for giving me access to this book.  Historical Fiction are a favorite genre in our library.  It is great to have more and more books that give us the perspective of Indigenous voices.  I am giving this novel a strong recommendation.
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DNF - I tried to read this twice & at that point I know I have to accept that the story isn't for me. I wanted to love this; it fits into genres that I adore but, I could not engage my brain into wanting to continue reading this. Maybe it was the writing style or the story or, something else but, ultimately, I wasn't the ideal reader for this. I'm glad to see so many other people have found their way to this book & love it.
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