From Publishers Weekly
Kate Talkingtree, the 57-year-old writer protagonist of Walker's latest concoction, is a lifelong seeker after enlightenment in the carnal, political and religious realms. After dreaming of a dry river, she decides to take this as a spiritual clue and makes two river-centric spiritual quests. In one, she embarks on an all-female white-water rafting trip down the Colorado River, coming home to her boyfriend, Yolo, a painter, with potentially startling news. She has decided that it is time to give up her sexual life and "enter another: the life of the virgin." Yolo, a feminist-friendly guy, takes this as well as he can. Soon Kate is off on another quest, this time in the Amazon rain forest, where she hopes to heal herself through trances induced by yag administered by an Amazonian shaman, Armando Juarez. Yag, a hallucinogenic beverage, is also known as Grandmother to the native peoples. Indeed, it turns out that Kate's Grandmother archetype-representing the Earth, the ancestors and those violated by patriarchy and racism-has been calling out to her. Meanwhile, Yolo, on vacation in Hawaii, encounters a transsexual Polynesian shaman, or Mahu, who charges him with the mission of giving up addictive substances. A subplot involving corporations conspiring to patent yag creates an unintended irony: isn't the mindset that exploits native wisdom for Western corporate greed similar to the mindset that exploits native rituals for the sake of Western spiritual "healing"? Luckily, followers of the goddess, and presumably Walker's readers, are not very keen on irony. Those who retain some affection for that hopelessly outdated and patriarchal trope are advised to bypass this inflated paean to the self.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kate, a successful author fearful of aging and uncertain about continuing her relationship with Yolo, an artist, sets off on a journey of spiritual discovery. She has been profoundly unhappy for some time, dreaming of rivers, until she takes off for rivers--the Colorado and the Amazon. Among strangers, Kate is able to distance herself from her life and her relationship. Yolo, on his own separate journey, meets a former lover, a Hawaiian woman now overweight and weighed down with the recent loss of her son to a drug overdose and a sense that she--like her son--has lost her way. Kate finds growing intimacy among a group of disparate souls who unburden themselves of their pasts under the influence of yage, a South American medicinal herb. Kate finds that the herb allows her to reveal her innermost secrets and puts her in touch with the elders. Despite their frictions, Kate and Yolo have similar reawakenings about the land as mother, overcoming personal and ethnic oppression, and dismantling barriers between the sexes, the races, and young and old. Walker's dreamlike novel incorporates the political and spiritual consciousness and emotional style for which she is known and appreciated. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved