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Ocotillo Dreams

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1931010764
ISBN-10: 1931010765
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A timely contribution to the dialogue on immigration."
--Rigoberto González, special to the El Paso Times


"Palacio writes with courage as she confronts  issues of identity, politics and family secrets."
--Daniel A. Olivas, author of Anywhere but L.A.

"Accomplished poet Palacio seamlessly transitions to fiction in her debut novel about identity, stereotypes, and prejudice in a Phoenix suburb. Palacio's poet's eye reveals a vibrantly painted desert culture of fragile beauty and uncompromising harshness." - Publishers Weekly

"Ocotillo Dreams is an intrepid first novel fashioned with the ocular chops of a poet, and the restraint and rhythm of a mid-career griot."
--Yago S. Cura, NewsTaco


"A beautiful and powerful novel. . . . Palacio's words tie us to the earth with a thin, invisible, fragile, and needed thread--and I am grateful . . ." --Fred Arroyo, author of The Region of Lost Names

From the Author

I write fiction and poetry and non-fiction articles as well. My work as a reporter in Arizona fueled my interest in historical fiction and writing about immigration. Ocotillo Dreams, because of the current immigration debate and the banning of books by Latino authors, has now become a contemporary novel. I am proud that my research helped the book receive an honorable mention in the historical fiction category at the ILBA Awards, the same organization that deemed Ocotillo Dreams the winner of the 2012 Mariposa Award for Best First Book. Ocotillo Dreams will also receive the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, December 2012.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Bilingual Pr (November 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931010765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931010764
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,309,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Melinda Palacio is an award-winning poet and author from South-Central Los Angeles. She studied Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and earned a graduate degree in the same field at UC Santa Cruz. She is a 2007 PEN USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow and an alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. In 2009, Bilingual Press accepted her novel manuscript, Ocotillo Dreams, for publication. That same year, she won Kulupi Press' Sense of Place 2009 competition for her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown. Tia Chucha Press published first full-length poetry manuscript, How Fire Is A Story, Waiting Fall 2012. The title poem from that collection has been widely reprinted and represents the first poem she published in 2006. The book was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize and placed first in the International Latino Book Awards. Her poetry and fiction have been widely published and anthologized, including Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, Southern Poetry Anthology IV: Louisiana, San Diego Poetry Annual New Poets of the American West: An Anthology of Eleven Western State, PALABRA, the Mas Tequila Review, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Naugatuck River River, Pilgrimage Magazine, Quercus Review, ASKEW Poetry Journal, Squaw Valley Review, San Pedro River Review, El Tecolote, and Strange Cargo: An Emerging Voices Anthology.

When she lived in Chandler, Arizona, she started freelancing and writing lifestyle pieces for local newspapers and magazines. Later, when she moved to Santa Barbara, she was a staff reporter for the Goleta Valley Voice and she started writing poetry and fiction. She had the idea of working on a historical novel, based on the INS sweeps of Chandler, Arizona in 1997. However, the events of Arizona's immigration laws and SB 1070 turned her historical work, Ocotillo Dreams, into a contemporary novel. She is currently working on a new novel.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frank Mundo on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
In poet Melinda Palacio's debut novel, Ocotillo Dreams, we meet a young woman named Isola, a green-eyed, "exotic-looking" Mexican-American "often mistaken for Thai or Filipino" whose mother's death couldn't have come at a worse time in her life. Just one fellowship short of becoming a full professor in San Francisco, Isola, drowning in credit card debt, lawyer fees and student loans, is suddenly forced to put her future on hold to settle her mother's estate in Chandler, Arizona.

Her plan is to temporarily relocate to Chandler, pack up her mother's house and sell it as quickly as possible and return to her life in San Francisco. With the help of her lawyer, Isola figures the whole process should only take a couple of weeks at most. But Isola, self-absorbed and a bit spoiled, has more baggage than she realizes. The self-proclaimed "reigning champ of awkward moments," Isola discovers Cruz Zarate, a handsome stranger sleeping in her mother's house, which is just one of the many startling secrets of her mother's hidden life that challenge Isola's understanding of her troubled relationship with her mother, her unresolved issues with her father's death (and her inheritance) and her strange obsession over the break-up with her boyfriend three years before.

To make matters worse, it's 1997, and the political climate over immigration issues in Arizona has reached its boiling point, creating an environment of uncertainty and fear that deeply divides the community on both sides of the issue. In fact, Arizona legislators have enacted a law that, in essence, permits racial profiling which the police in Chandler enforce through an action called Operation Restoration - five days of sweeps and raids to identify, arrest and deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ginger on August 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has presented the clash between two cultures in a subtle and powerful story involving an illegal immigrant man & a sophisticated American woman. We are given the motivations and actions of each of these characters separately, so that we may read their conflicts & consequences. A thought-provoking book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By La Reader on August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Great novel with mystery,romance it was an easy and enjoyable read. I look forward to her next novel!
Also check out Melinda's poetry, Folsom Lockdown. Look forward to reading more from this up and coming author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mariana Titus on August 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a beautifully written novel filled with romance, emotions, and politics. A young woman goes back to Chandler, Arizona to take care of her recently deceased mother's affairs and learns about her secret life helping undocumented immigrants. In getting to know her mother, she realizes many things about herself and her life takes on a whole new meaning. I loved this book from start to finish and could barely put it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Dinaberg on August 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book grabbed me from the very first page. Timely, lyrical and thought provoking. Melinda Palacio is definitely a writer to watch. If you liked T.C. Boyle's "Tortilla Curtain" then you'll probably enjoy this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Aide on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Melinda Palacio's wonderful book ,Ocotillo Dreams is a must read. It is about mother -daughter relationships, love, trust, immigration and so much more. Melinda Palacio is a talented storyteller and writer who brings the reader into Chandler ,Arizona during the migrant sweeps that took place in 1997. The main character Isola is a multifaceted and intelligent Chicana. In the book Isola explores her past, roots,and identity. I read this book slowly because I did not want it to end. I wanted to enjoy each and every page. I loved the book and I know you will love it too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lyn Di Iorio on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
While the immigration subtext is certainly important to this book, this short novel is also a haunting page-turner. The story of Isola's affair with Cruz, with all its provocative implications, given the fact that he was also her mother's lover, just kept me riveted. The story is disturbing, but in a really good, haunting and suggestive way! The image of the recurring dream about the Ocotillo cactus dipped in blood really captivated me and has stayed in my mind. Highly recommended story that has a number of meanings and really stays with you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Melinda Palacio is a fine writer and literary star on the rise. "Ocotillo Dreams" is a fantastic novel full of love mystery, passion, tears, and hope. It also provides a pointed look at the social issue of immigration here in the United States, presenting the humanistic side which is usually missing from the mainstream media. This is a book about families, and the painful sacrifices often made to protect our loved ones, regardless of nationality or language. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!
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