From Publishers Weekly
Guerrero's debut collection creates a fictional Mexican-American border town named Mesquite as the setting for most of its 11 stories. This imagined locale gains authenticity as the hopes, anguish and folly of the villagers are revealed with admirable restraint and clarity. Most searingly rendered are the children, several of whom reappear in various tales. In "The Curse," young Riquis tries to hide his crush on a new neighbor girl, Tonantzin, from his younger brother, Flaco, but Riquis's boyish mischief and embarrassed braggadocio serve to leave Tonantzin brokenhearted. Details of the youngsters' impoverished life in the dusty border town, menaced by the border police and often left to fend for themselves, add texture. Later, in "Butterfly," Tonantzin is in fifth grade, the unwitting object of the lust of her teacher, Donald Murray. The unconsciously racist Murray's creepy pursuit of the girl is thwarted by the humble Flaco. Other kinds of power reversals meet with betrayals in the lives of adult characters: an abused wife finds freedom from her terrifying husband when an accident leaves him wheelchair-bound. In a subtle and melancholy story, "Hotel Arco Iris," proudly middle-class Dolores Duran has the freedom to live alone with lovers that come and go. She is the polar opposite of her washerwoman and ostensible friend, the ever-pregnant Mercy, whose husband is sleeping with Dolores. But Dolores finds her plan for independence and freedom has a higher price than she expected; she wants love, but a fortune-teller spells out another, sadder fate. Though Guerrero's prose style can be blunt, the plainspoken declarations of her struggling characters give a quiet resonance to her tales. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A debut collection that offers a small (both in substance and scope) though intimate glimpse into the daily lives of the inhabitants of a fictionalized Mexican-American bordertown.Standing individually, these pieces would not carry the same weight--it's through their being woven together, like a family or a neighborhood, that their strength emerges: by creating a familiarity with and among the characters and their lives, the author realizes a sense of the poignancy of the tragedies and sorrows that take place in the small town of Mesquite. The first story, Even in Heaven, examines the life of a woman, Cookie McDonald, who is known to her neighbors as La Malinche, after the famous Mexican traitor; Cookie is so ashamed of her Mexican heritage that she trains a pair of binoculars on the border and reports illegal crossings to the INS. As we step out of her apartment into the harsh Arizona sunlight, we are introduced to her neighbors. Among them is Flaco, whose brother Riquis kills the cat of a young girl, Tonantzin, from the house behind them. Flaco grows to adore Tonantzin, and in one of the most touching pieces here, Cloud-Shadow, he pledges his eternal love after discovering that she must move away. These two are not the only lovers in Mesquite. There are Mono the garbageman (the Ape), a man so ugly he never thought he would find love; his paramour, Esperanza, the maid he met while she was taking out her employer's trash; Dolores, a lonely, unfulfilled schoolteacher who is sleeping with her friend Mercy's husband and goes in search of love in Mexico only to find it in the arms of a young, sexy gigolo; and Cisco Lopez and his mysterious girl Blanca Rosa, who disappears like a dream after only one night.A slight collection that explores the Latino community with sensitivity and respect. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.