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Comment: exlibrary hardcover book in mylar jacket with light wear, shows some light reader wear throughout ,all the usual library marks and stamps.
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The Guardians: A Novel Hardcover – July 31, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065004
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The acclaimed author of Peel My Love Like an Onion tracks the perilous lives of Mexicans who illegally cross to the U.S. for work. Fifty-something Regina, a poorly paid aide in a public school on the U.S. side, is raising Gabo, the son of her brother, Rafa. Seven years have passed since Gabo's mother, Ximena, was murdered by coyotes, or paid traffickers, during a crossing, her body mutilated for salable organs. As the novel opens, Rafa, who has continued to travel back and forth for work, is due to arrive, but vanishes. With Miguel Betancourt, a divorced teacher at Regina's school in his mid-30s, Regina tries to confront the coyotes who were supposed to cross Rafa. In alternating first-person chapters, Castillo writes convincingly in the voices of the canny, struggling Regina, who remains a virgin after a being widowed in an unconsummated marriage; the desirous Miguel; the passionately religious Gabo; and El Abuelo Milton, Miguel's elderly grandfather. All are sucked into a vortex of horror as the search for Rafa consumes them. Castillo takes readers forcefully into the lives of the neglected and abused, but missing is a full emotional connection to the protagonists, who remain strangely absent even as their fates are sealed. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* "I don't think they could come up with a horror movie worse than the situation we got going on en la frontera," muses Milton, a man who has seen it all and now, in old age, is nearly blind. Milton is one of four transfixing voices telling the grim story of life along the border between the U.S and Mexico. Castillo writes fiction and poetry of earthy sensuality, wry social commentary, and lyrical spiritualism that confront the cruel injustices accorded women and Mexicans in America, legal and otherwise. In this tightly coiled and powerful tale, Regina, a virgin-widow in her fifties living in rural New Mexico, cares for her unusually disciplined teenage nephew, Gabo, who believes he's destined for the priesthood. Gabo's father often crosses the border to visit, but this time something has gone wrong, and given the gruesome fate of Gabo's mother, there is cause for alarm. As Gabo intensifies his prayers and penance, Regina, a teacher's aide unaware of her allure, asks Miguel, a chivalrous activist history teacher, for help, and he, in turn, enlists his covertly resourceful grandfather, Milton. At once shatteringly realistic and dramatically mystical, Castillo's incandescent novel of suffering and love traces life's movement toward the light even in the bleakest of places. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

And it would have been had I like any of the characters.
Stephanie Gates
I can appreciate the use of the hybrid language as a literary device, but just don't think the author achieved her intention here.
Betty-Anne Olton
In the end, I just didn't find the characters or the story believable, enlightening, or compelling.
JustMelissa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Betty-Anne Olton on August 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reading Ana Castillo's The Guardians turned out to be a difficult experience. She weaves four different Mexican-American voices around each other and attempts to bring cohesion to her story.

The four - Regina, a woman as determined to hold on to her past as she is to see her nephew have a future; Gabo, a sixteen year old boy fighting to cope with a lifetime of loss believing his only choices are the church or the gangs; Miguel, a disillusioned schoolteacher with a somewhat atypical divorce situation and Miguel's grandfather Milton, mostly deaf and half-blind, caught up in the memories of a revolutionary past - are united by the disappearance of Regina's brother (and Gabo's father) Rafa, who has made the crossing between Mexico and the United States several times, but failed to return to the United States this last time.

The main difficulty with this book was the very distracting language issue. Ana Castillo allows all her characters to speak in a hybrid of English and Spanish, which may make sense to persons with a background in Spanish, but kept breaking me out of the flow of the story to the point where I began skipping over words by the time I got to the middle of the book. I can appreciate the use of the hybrid language as a literary device, but just don't think the author achieved her intention here.

Additionally, while her characters are quite distinct, their voices definitely are not. At times it was difficult to distinguish who was speaking when moving from one perspective to another. Sometimes I found myself in the middle of a chapter before I realized the character had changed.

On the whole The Guardians was a moving and beautiful story that at times would leap out of the language issue with a startling clarity, but which mostly got lost.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By NativeRoses on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
i expected to like this novel. The cover blurbs are great and the themes are urgent. Unfortunately, the novel itself veers between long stretches of dreadful plotlessness, highly improbable events that (finally) drive the plot forward, and seemingly endless pages filled with characters' musings to themselves.

It's not as if Ana Castillo's topics aren't engaging. She's telling a story about a family living on and fractured by the Mexican-American border. The characters include a man who vanished crossing the border with coyotes to rejoin his sister and son in the U.S. Years before, coyotes separated him from his wife, harvested her organs, and left her lying dead in the desert. The man's surviving son dreams of becoming a priest and finding his father as he navigates a gang-infested school. His guardian aunt, a teacher's aide, dreams of starting a business and relaxes by working in her garden. The aunt has body issues and is still a virgin since she did not consummate her marriage the day before her husband was sent overseas and killed in the military.

Castillo's didacticism is pronounced and inescapable. Characters constantly provide the details of their pasts and their reactions to current events in long monologues. Two of the main characters are schoolteachers and one of the teachers mourns how little the young people know about their own past. And so, the readers receive Castillo's history lessons and opinions about Mexican-American politics throughout the book.

The author's politics are equally unavoidable. Characters muse that we are brothers and sisters on both sides of the border and there should be no restrictions on people traveling north for economic reasons.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book for two different book groups and both groups liked it very much. The characters are so original and vividly drawn that they will not leave my memory: red-haired Regina who is utterly unaware of her middle-aged beauty; pony-tailed Miguel who is finally learning to express his emotions; Gabo, a rare teenager who pursues a holiness that engages with the hurting, messy world rather than escaping from it; and Milton, the nearly blind and nearly deaf old man whose wisdom helps him intervene at the right times. These are the voices that weave together the story. None of them can see the whole picture. Each of them contributes a vital perspective.
I know some Spanish, so the occasional Spanglish did not bother me; in fact I thought it added a great deal to the ambience created by Castillo's text.
The heavy use of symbolic names could be seen as a detractor: all four archangel names are present (Gabriel, Michael, Rafael and Uriel), as well as Regina (queen of heaven), Maria Dolores, and Milton (author of "Paradise Lost"). But I took these names as a nod to magical realism, similar to the stigmata that Gabo experiences.
Some might quarrel with Regina's quick, instinctual forgiveness at the end, but I have seen forgiveness like this in real life. It is startling, but not unrealistic.
I wish that a map of the El Paso area had been included, since landscape and boundary lines figure so prominently in the narrative.
I also wish that the ending had not been quite so abrupt. It was like a quick tangle of threads, with only a few of them pulled out a bit by the last page.
I would like to see a movie made from this story someday.
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