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Jesusita

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Jesusita
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"A bleak look at a bitter life that may be too much for readers to bear." -Kirkus Reviews

Jesusita is the story of immigrants-legal and illegal-trying to survive in California in the years after World War II. Jesusita, alone and impoverished, struggles to keep her four young children together. Though she finds support from Padre Montes at St. Teresa's Catholic Church, her faith won't solve her problems, especially those with her daughter, Paulina. Far from home, Filipino laborers are denied by law any contact with white women. Angie, the young daughter of an illiterate and unmarried mother, knows only one way to make money. And Felix, abandoned by his mother and separated from his only brother, is placed in a foster home on an isolated ranch. The interrelated lives of these people provide a complex, sometimes violent, and often tragic image of American poverty within the nation's postwar boom.

San Francisco Book Review

This book pulled me in from the start with Jesusita's and Father Montes's compelling characters. Both are deeply flawed, but also sympathetic, in that they try to overcome their limitations-Jesusita of the poverty and single parenthood that has been thrust upon her, Montes his difficulty in relating to others. The setting, the Central Valley of California, and its small towns and farms, is also deeply interwoven into the story, especially in the importance of the church to social life. Gossip and the local "grapevine" of information play a huge role, as it does to any culture, especially an intimate one. It is this church life and its rumors that first uplifts Jesusita and then as quickly leads to her downfall. The dynamics of religious fanaticism are also well portrayed.

One subplot, about a young girl's spiral downward into prostitution seems unrelated to the main plot, but may mirror it thematically in its story of a tragic fall. It is ultimately Jesusita's fanaticism that makes her a classic tragic figure who gains great heights-within her social context-but which also leads to her fall.

"A bleak look at a bitter life that may be too much for readers to bear." -Kirkus ReviewsJesusita is the story of immigrants-legal and illegal-trying to survive in California in the years after World War II. Jesusita, alone and impoverished, struggles to keep her four young children together. Though she finds support from Padre Montes at St. Teresa's Catholic Church, her faith won't solve her problems, especially those with her daughter, Paulina. Far from home, Filipino laborers are denied by law any contact with white women. Angie, the young daughter of an illiterate and unmarried mother, knows only one way to make money. And Felix, abandoned by his mother and separated from his only brother, is placed in a foster home on an isolated ranch. The interrelated lives of these people provide a complex, sometimes violent, and often tragic image of American poverty within the nation's postwar boom.San Francisco Book ReviewThis book pulled me in from the start with Jesusita's and Father Montes's compelling characters. Both are deeply flawed, but also sympathetic, in that they try to overcome their limitations-Jesusita of the poverty and single parenthood that has been thrust upon her, Montes his difficulty in relating to others. The setting, the Central Valley of California, and its small towns and farms, is also deeply interwoven into the story, especially in the importance of the church to social life. Gossip and the local "grapevine" of information play a huge role, as it does to any culture, especially an intimate one. It is this church life and its rumors that first uplifts Jesusita and then as quickly leads to her downfall. The dynamics of religious fanaticism are also well portrayed.One subplot, about a young girl's spiral downward into prostitution seems unrelated to the main plot, but may mirror it thematically in its story of a tragic fall. It is ultimately Jesusita's fanaticism that makes her a classic tragic figure who gains great heights-within her social context-but which also leads to her fall.
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Product Details
Sales Rank:
99,999,999
Pages:
288
Publication Date:
05/14/2015
ISBN13:
9781937484330
Product Dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x0.60(d)
Publisher:
Amika Press
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About the Author
Ronald L. Ruiz is the author of a memoir, A Lawyer (2012), and three previous novels-Happy Birthday Jesús (1994), Giuseppe Rocco (1998), and The Big Bear (2003). Born and raised in Fresno, California, Ron was educated at St. Mary's College, California, University of California, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco. He practiced law from 1966 to 2003 as a Deputy District Attorney, a criminal defense attorney, and a Deputy Public Defender. He was appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974 and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County, California.
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Editorial Reviews
2015-08-05
In 1945, a widowed Mexican immigrant faces powerfully difficult conditions in Ruiz's (A Lawyer, 2012, etc.) latest novel. With four children to feed and a recently deceased husband, migrant worker Jesusita González struggles to earn a living as a picker following California's crops. Her children do their best but often exasperate their mother—particularly Paulina, the most frequent recipient of her wrath. Jesusita's world changes significantly, however, when she's convinced to attend a pilgrimage to a holy shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe. There, she has a profoundly religious experience that deepens her faith. She befriends her local priest and becomes active in the church community. Unfortunately, though, she still experiences anger and rage. Poor Paulina is still her primary target, and the beatings are severe; Jesusita simply keeps Paulina out of school until the cuts and bruises fade. One day, Jesusita succumbs to her anger once again—and this time, she goes way too far. After struggling with her daughter on a riverbank, the girl gets swept away by the current. Did Jesusita push her? Was Paulina possessed by the devil? Did Jesusita want her to die? Jesusita struggles with these difficult questions, as well as those of the police and her neighbors, and her efforts take a disastrous toll on her family, on her body, and on her mind. Ruiz vividly displays his knowledge of the harsh conditions experienced by Mexican immigrants. However, his characters are just as harsh, and as a protagonist, Jesusita is about as unsympathetic as they come: she rarely expresses affection for her children, instead seeing them as just a burden to be borne. She feels no remorse for her beatings of Paulina, believing that they "weren't sins." But in this novel, things are hard for everyone. One subplot, for example, follows a woman who was being paid for sexual favors at 6 years old. Another tells of a mentally challenged boy who isn't allowed inside the house of his adoptive family. The misery in this novel is abundant and acute, and as a result, many readers may agree with one character who remarks, "I've heard enough about Jesusita and her kids." A bleak look at a bitter life that may be too much for readers to bear.
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Customer Reviews (5)
Often I will select a book based on its cover or the language on t ...
Often I will select a book based on its cover or the language on the back cover. But when you're reviewing books, often the cover art or design and the blurb from the back cover are not available. You receive the description or synopsis, and sometimes a cover image. You make a decision and hope it's a book you'll enjoy reading. When I received my copy of Jesusita, I looked at the cover and said to myself, "I probably would not have picked this up in a bookstore." However, I had committed to read and review Ronald Ruiz's new novel, and I would. Ruiz is a gifted writer. With prose describing even the most subtle of nuances, he writes Jesusita's story. It is the story of every immigrant crossing into America in the 1940s and 1950s. Some farmers provided food, housing, and clothing for these migrant workers. Others lived on the ranches and farms where they worked. Jesusita's story begins in 1945. Jesusita's story is not a pretty one, not a story that will make you feel warm and fuzzy. Filled with raw images of parents beating their children, abusing them with words and emotions, Jesusita's story plays out for the reader in a depth of reality often hard to accept. Having grown up in an abusive situation, my body cringed and my heart broke at times and tears flowed. But I had to keep reading. Why? Ruiz wants us to know the history of our country and of the people who came here hoping for a better life. Not all received that better life. Some did fortunately, but others were deported or the goodness they hoped to find never materialized for them. Ruiz doesn't dabble with the history of the situation; he tells it just like it was in 1945 and forward. A well written and inspiring story despite the raw and brutal truth found between the covers of Jesusita deserves your attention. I hope today I have caught you with something that makes you want to read this part of our country's history. And the history of our neighbors to the south, the Hispanic Americans who still fight for a better life. I highly recommend Jesusita. Although I rarely award a star rating on this blog, today I give Jesusita and her author, Ronald L. Ruiz, five stars for the quality of writing and the intense truth shared so well. FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via iRead Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
- SherreyM
November 17, 2015
I was intrigued to check this book out but then when I picked it u ...
I was intrigued to check this book out but then when I picked it up to start reading it, I started having second thoughts. I had my mind made up that I was going to have to tolerate this book as I had committed to reading it. This is one of those books that you can't judge but the book cover or back summary. The reason for this is because I had an amazing good time reading this book. I instantly felt a strong emotional connection with everyone in this book. Although I will warn you that the reason that this book worked so well is because it was "raw". Filled with drama, sex, religion, family, abuse, and heartache. As the story progresses it does get darker with all of the characters and the experiences they encounter. So if you are looking for a good book to read then you should check this book out.
- Cherylkochbooks
November 7, 2015
First and foremost, I must forewarn as I always do with books that ...
First and foremost, I must forewarn as I always do with books that can be triggering. This book does deal with anger, violence, sexual contact involving children, poverty, etc. There are some events that can be difficult to read. If these things are triggering for you, please feel free to move on from this post or review. With that said, there were some parts that were difficult to handle. The books begins with Jesusita who’s husband died and she is left with four children to care for. Being an illegal immigrant, the work they are left to do and the conditions that she is left to live in with her children are hard to imagine, but I have no doubt in my mind that they are true. It definitely makes you take a moment to be thankful for the things we take for granted. We meet Angie who gets paid for sexual contact starting at the age of 6. I think it was the stories of Angie that turned my stomach the most. Padre Montes – who does not start out as Padre Montes – was one that brought fire to my soul. I found that my thoughts and emotions mirrored a lot of his. How the Filipino men were described and the rules among them (especially with white women) was rather interesting tome. All in all, I have to say, Jesusita sat with me for a few days after reading it. The emotions, the events, the story stayed with me and definitely gave me something to think about for days to come.
- lifeasleels
November 13, 2015
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