Antonio is just another young boy living in his village in the heart of New Mexico. His life consists of farming around his house, going to church, and playing with friends. Antonio does not have a care in the world—until a family friend and medicine woman, Ultima, comes to live in his house. As he develops a close bond with the elderly and powerful woman, his beliefs are thrown into question when he witnesses the true cruelties of the world. Death, curses, revenge, and tragedy quickly present themselves to Antonio. In order to determine his true feelings about religion and his future, he must journey deep within himself and ignore all of the outside influences pressing in on him, waiting for his choice.
While this is not the quickest or most engaging read, it is quite in-depth in terms of religious conflict. Anaya’s writing inserts magical realism into the book in the form of witches, spirit animals, and some types of description. Antonio’s family is Hispanic, and many Spanish words and phrases are scattered throughout the pages of this novel. If you are searching for action or adventure, this would not be the best choice, but the conflicts described in the story are very thought-provoking.
Review by Emma, teen blogger