Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. ‘We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,’ says Antonio’s mother. ‘It is not the way of our people,’ agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed the premise and most parts of the story, but the writing was incredibly dry for me. I read this for Dulce Candy’s Book Club. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the American southwest culture and stories of mysticism as told from an individual’s perspective.
The premise of the story and perspective-driven plot was interesting. I appreciated the experiences being told, as well as the cultural references as they related to daily life within the setting, and the integration of Spanish language.
I liked the idea but the delivery came across as overly embellished and was dull for much of the book. I felt myself getting stuck in the overly descriptive and play-by-play details which took away from the overall flow of the book, which ultimately moved very slowly. The writing lacked appeal and reveal. I had a difficult time getting into each scene and following them all the way through.
It contained some interesting aspects of family dynamics and culture though!