By Gary Stelzer
Published October 2009 by Decent Hearts Press
Source: Robin of Carol Fass Publicity and Public Relations
This is the tale of Flora Enriquez, who is first introduced to the reader as a thirteen-year-old living in a Central American village when American Kate Bowman comes to spend time as an aide worker with her nephew. A year later we pick up again with Flora as she and her siblings are preparing to cross the border into the U.S. in search of a better life. When Flora's sister dies during the crossing and her brothers are captured by border guards, Flora is left on her own. She eventually finds herself living in the shed of a wealthy family who hire her as a maid when they discover her. She makes herself indispensable to the family and convinces them to pay for her education as a teacher. When she is just 20, she meets Monte Erickson and soon finds herself married to him. Unfortunately, he carries the baggage of a very violent, criminal brother. Eventually the couple and their two children flee the apartment they have been renting from the brother and settle into a new life with Monte working in the mines and Flora working as a teacher. But when Monte's brother finds them, Flora's life takes a dramatic turn. Shot and near death, she is saved from the brother by a Mexican woman who has crossed illegally and is traveling in a boxcar to meet her husband. Marguerite believes that Flora is her deceased daughter, returned to her and convinces her husband that they must help her. Life becomes a daily battle as Flora needs much more care than the family is able to provide. Unable to speak, Flora is on an odyssey that will take her from Texas to the shores of Lake Michigan then all the way back to Mexico.
I have to admit that I was ready to put this book down after 30 pages. I found a number of glaring errors that were really distracting for me (one of Flora's brother's was 16 on page 13 then 15 on page 14 and Flora's height went from 4'10" to 5'3"). But I always try to give a book a 100 page chance to I pushed on. By the time I reached the 100 page mark, the writing had evened out and the story was unique enough that it kept me reading to the end.
Stelzer certainly has an epic story to tell; unfortunately, his writing style didn't work for me. Beyond the errors, I felt like there was just too much going on in the book and that the pacing was uneven. Stelzer has done his research on the Barrances del Cobre aborigines and was clearly well-versed in small planes and their operation. He also portrays a very believable picture of what life as an illegal immigrant must be like.
For a completely different opinion, please visit Cheryl's Book Nook. Cheryl found the book "wonderful" and was "lost in this book instantly." Beth, of Beth's Book Review Blog, also found the book "well-written and engrossing."
There is much more about the book at Gary's site. Thanks Robyn, for allowing me, once again to expand my knowledge of the way other people live.