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The Guardians: A Novel Hardcover – July 31, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
While crossing the border illegally several years ago, Gabo's mother was murdered by "coyotes," or people traffickers, who were paid to bring her to the US. Her body was found mutilated, with its organs removed for sale on the black market. Now that Gabo's father, Rafa, has disappeared while crossing over from Mexico, Regina and Gabo begin a search for clues as to what happened to him, while fearing the worst.
Seeking advice, Regina approaches Miguel Betancourt, a recently divorced teacher at the school where Regina works. He tracks down the address of a house in El Paso that the coyotes are using, and Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and his grandfather Milton are soon dragged into an exciting and dangerous search for clues leading to Rafa.
Castillo brilliantly shows readers that the political, highly charged issue of immigration is not as black and white as the evening news often portrays it to be. She poetically illustrates to her readers the less-seen gray area of regular people searching for a better life, while not shying away from the realities and horrors of the drug and people trafficking gangs who control the borderlands.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very nice bood, I really enjoyed it. The seller is very reliable, I got it on time. ThaksPublished 8 months ago by Karlalex
The book was an English Course reading material so by those standards it was not very fun to read. I didn't like the fact that it was written by a woman and it was a novel. Read morePublished on February 19, 2014 by Alfonso Torres
It started off good and the characters were interesting, but it was a little disjointed. The characters were all over the place and I didn't think in the end they came together. Read morePublished on May 5, 2013 by Pat Wheatley
I'm on a binge for books from home in El Paso. Not too many novels set there like the Guardians by Castillo. I don't want to dislike books by my own. Read morePublished on April 26, 2010 by Frank
The premise of this book promised to be something that was right up my alley. And it would have been had I like any of the characters. Read morePublished on January 1, 2010 by Stephanie Gates
The best thing I can say about this book is that I finished it. Normally, if a book doesn't grab me within the first 50 pages, I allow myself to set it aside and move on. Read morePublished on December 22, 2008 by JustMelissa
The Guardians is a true snapshot of what life on the Border can be. The Abuelo Milton is an great charachter. The use of the 4 voices is very interesting. Read morePublished on April 28, 2008 by La Reader