From Publishers Weekly
Samartin's disappointing latest (after Tarnished Beauty
) queasily alternates between past and present, as Ana, tending to her dying lover, reflects on the events that have brought her to this point. Samartin is at her best dealing with Ana's harsh childhood in war-torn El Salvador. But the story loses strength after a sympathetic nun arranges for Ana's entry to the U.S. Once in California, Ana attends school and, upon graduation, enters a convent. But before taking her vows, she works as a nanny for the wealthy Trellis family, and the temporary job becomes permanent as Ana becomes increasingly involved in the Trellis family. However, the characters are so thin that it's difficult to care about Ana or the Trellises, and the domestic dramas and descriptions of Ana's household duties that make up the bulk of the book are less than exciting, while the plot twist at the end is predictable and hokey. Samartin's writing, while sometimes fine, is often clotted with clumsy metaphors (a piano reminds Ana of an eagle on the wing soaring through the sky). The novel's derivative premise is its most distinguishing feature. (July)
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is a moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit and the triumphant power of love and forgiveness. Ana's story takes the reader into grim poverty and war in gripping reality, yet Samartin simultaneously manages to illuminate the beauty of family and connection, and the driving light that propels Ana into adulthood. Beautifully told, Vigil
is a book for my keeper shelf." -- Karen White, author of The Lost Hours
and The Memory of Water
"Written with evocative grace and poetic beauty, Ana's story captured my heart on the first page and did not let go until long after the last heart-mending words. A story of losing one's homeland and beginning again, Samartin's storytelling is infused with tender insight into the wounded places of the human soul." -- Patti Callahan Henry, National Bestselling author of Between the Tides