Cover Image: Woman of Light

Woman of Light

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Woman of Light tells us the story of several generations of a family living in the American West in the early 1900's. They have indigenous and Mexican roots and therefore are considered less than. At every turn, in every generation we see the limitations of their lives and what they are able to do and achieve, who they are able to love and how easily they are taken advantage of and abused. We get three stories, the most modern of which centers upon Luz and Diego living in the 1930's - they are both trying to advance themselves and are continually knocked down by the world. But they are also quite short-sighted at the sacrifices and pain their aunt, parents and grandparents had to endure to give them the chances they have. Slowly through alternating chapters we learn more about this family and the generational pain and repeated ways they were taken advantage of.

I love a multi-generational story as well as early American life stories. I am grateful to hear / read one focused on the marginalized, the cultures whose stories were previously told by the white majority and therefore were portrayed as villains or lazy. This story tells you the truth, the ease with which these hardworking people who dreamed of more, were constantly held back. That treatment, the violence and insults are not easy to read, but important to acknowledge and experience.

I alternated listening to this one via ALC thanks to Libro.FM and reading it via the generosity of the publisher via Netgalley. The narrator was fabulous in the audio version. I ultimately went on to purchase a copy of the novel. All opinions above are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a fantastic writer. This story blew me away and I could not say enough good things about it. The writing was beautiful and it stayed with me even after I finished it. I cannot wait to recommend this book to everyone.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked the characters in this book but had some issues with a lot of the book as well. See below for the synopsis:

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 1930's Denver on her own, 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. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

My main gripe was how character driven this novel was. If you asked me what the plot of this novel is, I honestly would not know how to answer that. There wasn't much plot-wise that kept me wanting to read more. The characters were lovable, however I wish that we would have gone more in depth about some of the side characters such as Maria Josie and Lizette. I did very much enjoy the writing, time period, and atmosphere of the book so 3 stars it is!
Was this review helpful?
I had such high hopes for this after reading Sabrina & Corina and loving it so much. 

Alas, I just couldn't get into this, tried and tried but it did not hold my attention. Probably me and the current state of my reading life and not the fault of the novel.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a beautiful story from start to finish. It’s a touch of magic, mixed with folklore, and historical fiction. I loved the history aspect of it, and learned something new. The characters are engaging and well written. The story flowed beautifully and I was sad when it was over. I highly recommend this for anyone! 

Thank you to the publisher, author, and to Netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest review!
Was this review helpful?
The writing in this book was captivating, and the characters interesting. I felt like i knew every character pretty well, except Luz. I am not sure exactly why, but she seemed distant from everything. The overall story was interesting but i was puzzled by some of the little plot points that didn’t seem to have a point, like when Diego journeys to return to Denver and sleeps with two random women. I enjoyed passages of the book but it didn’t suck me in.
Was this review helpful?
Woman of Light is a beautifully written book. I love books with a strong sense of place and time, and Fajardo-Anstine's descriptive writing is as good as it gets. I felt transported to early 20th century Denver. There isn't a lot of historical fiction set in Colorado and New Mexico, and I found myself repeatedly visiting the web to read up on events the author includes. I had no idea, for example, the extent of the Klan's dominance over Denver's politics. 

If you prefer a linear narrative and strong plotting, this may not; however, be "your" book. Fajardo-Anstine is best known for her short stories, and her competence in writing this genre permeates Woman of Light. That said, the chapters in this book sometimes feel more like loosely connected short stories. The primary narrative focussing on Luz is more novel-like, but it's still less of a plot-driven narrative than an immersive sensual experience to read the book. 

As an avid reader of historical fiction, hungry for more perspectives, and appreciative of a whole sensory experience, I strongly recommend this book. It touches on several topics worthy of a deeper discussion, making the novel an excellent book club choice.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Fajardo-Anstine's writing is some of the most beautiful work being produced today. I was totally immersed in this story, and it's one I've never seen in a book before. Honestly, I find it hard to write anything meaningful about this book as an amateur reviewer - it's one of those books that simply reminds you of the joy of a well crafted, emotional novel.
Was this review helpful?
Thought this was a really well done generational
Story. So many are hard to follow, this was great!  I felt like I learned a lot while also feeling so much.
Was this review helpful?
Woman of Light
 by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

“There is one every generation--a seer who keeps the stories."

Woman of Light is many things. It is a Mestizo/Chicano family saga spanning five generations, a story of the Old American West that is not widely known and a coming of age story. The main thread of this story is about Luz Lopez or “Little Light” the endearment by which she is known. Luz comes from a lineage of indomitably and unconventional woman to which we are slowly introduced. But what if, instead of relying on a handful of incomplete memories and tales, there were a keeper of ones collective ancestral stories? One born into each generation? In Woman of Light, this is precisely what we are asked to imagine in this tale inspired by the author’s own family.

Woman of Light is a must read for fans of historical fiction who wish to be transported to another place and time through the eyes of a diverse cast of characters. Looking for a diverse read for your book club? Look no further.

My sincerest thanks to @netgalley and @oneworldbooks for the gift of this digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! I did not know what to expect going into this book, but I’ve got to give Woman of Light alllll the stars. This is my first book by Kali Fajardo-Anstine but I’m already ready to read her short story collection Sabrina&Corina. 

This is a story about a family history and the reverberations through generations, both from trauma but also light and love. I adored the MC Luz, whose story takes place in 1933, and her cousin Lizette. 

Please don’t hesitate, pick this book up and read it! You won’t be sorry
Was this review helpful?
This historical fiction novel focuses on the multigenerational journey of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Through their eyes, we see the struggles they endure in order to survive, the racism and hate they face, and the hardship they must overcome.  

Luz, also called “Little Light”, is a tea leaf reader and inherits the family ability to “see”.  She works as a laundress and later as a secretary, while living with her aunt in the Denver area in the 1930s.  Her older brother, Diego, also works two jobs to help the family meet their needs.  They face the terror of racism firsthand, only being able to walk in certain areas of the community and avoiding the “Anglos” as much as they can.  They witness Klan marches and learn of brutal beatings and killings.  Throughout Luz’s story, the reader also learns of similar tales of struggle, love, heartache, betrayal, and loss that were endured by her parents and grandparents in the nearby Lost Territory decades earlier.  

This is a beautifully written novel.  I just traveled through the Denver area, and I felt like I was back there when I read this book.  It opened my eyes to the racism faced by the Indigenous and Chicano cultures during the early 1900s.  It broke my heart to read how many were taken and transported to other places to give white settlers more opportunities for work, while also being forcibly removed from their land to make way for mining establishments.  I loved Luz’s character, and her fierce love for her people and her family.  This book is a keepsake for the people of Denver, painting a portrait of its natural beauty and wildness, while also revealing the strength of culture and family in the midst of adversity and heartache.  Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for this advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
This is a lovely historical, generational novel rich in Native American and Mexican culture.  The story is moving and interesting.  Thank you Netgalley for this advanced reader’s copy.
Was this review helpful?
WOMAN OF LIGHT by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is that rarest of pleasures: a gripping story of generations of a Chicano family in the American West that is also profoundly poetic and lyrical. Her story is filled with vivid scenes and fantastic characters and incredible, yet perfectly logical, twists and turns. From the start, I dropped into a magical world and never wanted to leave. I can see this book as a beloved book club read -- and am starting with my very own book group and town library. A masterpiece of story! I received an advance copy of this novel and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGaley, who for offering me a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a touching, multi-generational saga populated with extremely vivid characters I wished I could spend more time with. The main character of the story is Luz Lopez, a young woman with the gift of seeing into the future, and occasionally the past. Through her eyes we meet her parents, gandparents, and adoptive grand-grandmother. And at the end, we meet the next generation. It's a story of endurance in unfriendly lands, and unfriendly times. The narrative unfolds slowly, and yet every day I couldn't wait to have the time to pick up the book and find out what will happen next.  The writing is so evocative, that you can often touch, feel, smell, taste scenes as if you've been transported inside the pages of the book. "All around them they were enclosed with towering ponderosa pines and blue spruce, the smells of sagebush and pine sap riding the light mountain breeze, rushing over their skin and into their hair." Or: "A honey-colored wedding dress spilled forth like a foamy river". And the climax of the story was perfect--rarely do I gasp in response to what should have been a reasonably predictable event, yet the tension in the scene was amped up flawlessly.

The only reasons I didn't give the book a perfect score was that occasionally the author selected strange wording that wasn't quite correct--this happened often enough that I couldn't ignore it. "the cloudless sky grew crowded with two hawks that soared toward the red theater." (two hawks are hardly a crowd) or "Her cheeks balled with happiness" (the character was crying, but I doubt cheeks can ball). Eyes were generally strangely described, including pupils being compared to comets. And I also thought that Avel's real character being exposed abruptly at the end wasn't the best way to go about it--in reality there would have been warning signs that someone as perceptive as Luz would have picked up. In general I'm not a fan of the narrative "even nice men can't be trusted", it sends a toxic and incorrect message to the audience as well. Planting warning signs would have been more accurate and also a better narrative choice in my opinion.

Despite the minor flaws I mentioned above, the book was a great read, brought to life compelling characters, and I highly recommend it. I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
This wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't for me. Literary fiction is very hit or miss for me. The writing and characters were ok, I just didn't care about anything happening and I didn't really like the non-linear timeline.
Was this review helpful?
Anstine's multigenerational familial tale vibrates with the bonds and love of family. Her prose is vibrant and effortlessly brings her characters and their story to life. In a time where violence against People of Colour was par for the course for whites, Anstine manages to capture how these people rally together in their communities, families, and beyond to bring attention to the brutality they were subject to.

The connection between Luz and her brother, as well as her aunt and extended family really came across in both the dialogue and story. Her gift for seeing how lives may blossom and change speaks to her being a carrier of memory for her family. The time shifting between each generation, how their lives expanded and changed, how they slowly lost their land and were displaced, yet still managed to survive speaks to their resilience.

I would have loved to have spent more time with Maria Jose and Sara, but enough was said about their lives to allow for the reader to build upon. The losses, love, betrayals, and violence really held my interest and I was fully immersed in the existence of these characters.
Was this review helpful?
Woman of Light is a generational story about family with origins in the "Lost Territory" of the 1800s. It spans through the 1930s, focusing on Luz "Little Light" Lopez, who reads the future in her clients' tea leaves. The book pulls you in with a wide cast of colorful and unique characters. Fajardo-Anstine's prose paints vivid images, from the sweeping plains to the purple mountain ranges to the silver moonlight and liquid gold of a wedding dress. Every sentence is packed. The prose is flowery and often contrasts to portended dread: "The grass was textured blue, the sky a whisper of a day" just sounds like an ominous start. 

The story is interesting and the reader is engaged by Luz and her narrative, in the back story of how her people ended up in Denver after its origins in the Lost Territory (What we now consider Colorado? New Mexico?). In illustrating that there were people on the land, families going back centuries, in tune with the land, before Anglos arrived, the narrative soars. More stories about this period in this country, please!

Some awkward and clumsy scenes of passion don't quite land (my notes: Why? Clunky! Ew!) but this is a minor quibble in this sweeping novel.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free electronic ARC copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and the publisher Random House. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read Woman of Light of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Fajardo-Amstome writes an intriguing tale with personable characters and a steadily evolving plot. She is an author I will follow. I am pleased to recommend her to friends and family.

This is a family story, roving from 1868 through 1934, taking place for the most part in Colorado and northern New Mexico. There are occasional forays into the 'Lost Territory', which I am assuming to be the lands below the Rio Grande that were ceded to Mexico after the war with Mexico. Our protagonists are the original settlers of this land, the Blacks, Native Americans, Spaniards, Greeks, and Mexicans who had called the southwestern U.S. home for many generations. The very people who were overlooked and overwhelmed by invading white settlers. We follow siblings Sara and Maria Josefina and Luz and Diego, children losing their parents much too young in a world that is harsh and unforgiving. Lizette will also play a big role, as best friend and protector of Luz, Lizette was a girl and woman always in the mix of these varied lives. Luck will play a minor role in our tale, but it is the strength and forbearance of these intrepid women who will hold you in thrall.

There is a great deal of bouncing around in place and time, so you want to give yourself unrestricted time to follow this story. It is followable, just requires concerted effort and the tale is very much worth the extra effort. Through the lives of these five individuals, you are immersed into frontier days, suffering the prejudices and problems, the joys, and satisfaction these protagonists feel as they make their way in this old world. My third or fourth thought after finishing this story at 5AM, was thank goodness I wasn't born until the mid-twentieth century. And how lucky I was to have spent my life for the most part on the High Plains Desert.

pub date June 7, 2022
Random House
1 like
Was this review helpful?
🇲🇽 Book Review 🇲🇽

#womanoflight
#KaliFajardoAnstine
#historicalfiction 

🇲🇽🇲🇽🇲🇽.5/5 (rounding down for ratings) 

This book had been listed as a family saga. I've always knows sagas to be generational. This book does discuss 3 generations but on 3 timelines at once. Constantly jumping back and forth. Clearly marked but nonetheless, confusing. I was never able to get invested in one of the woman's lives before I got shifted to the next. 

I truly wanted to like this more. But I felt like I had to force myself to continue to pick it back up. Sadly, this was a meh for me. 

#bookstagram #booknerds #bookworm #booklover #bookdragon #readalot #ilovereading #inkdrinker #librarymouse #bookaddict #bookaholic #bookreview #booknerdigan #bookish #booknerdbookreviews
Was this review helpful?