Bless Me, Ultima
By Rudolfo A. Anaya
Warner Books, (1973) 1994. 250 pages. Fiction.
This widely acclaimed and award winning novel for Chicano literature, tells of a young boy in New Mexico in the 1940s as he experiences the ups and downs of growing up. Antonio bonds with Ultima, a curandera (native traditional healer) as she lives with his struggling family. Ultima takes Antonio on a spiritual journey as he learns about the grittier aspects of life. Antonio must negotiate his parents differing backgrounds, religion. life and death, healing powers, post WWII realities, and good and evil, ultimately arriving at who he wants to become. Antonio credits the shaping of life to this kind old woman who taught him and cared for him when his world was a turbulent and confusing mess.
This book is a classic that sinks into your soul and changes you- I highly recommend it for all mature teens and adults. Anaya writes with imaginative description and visceral clarity about the realities of life so this novel is not a thematically easy or relaxing read. I enjoyed the insights into New Mexican life during this time period and how the different worlds colliding must have been hard for a young person to grow up in. Coming of age stories always resonate with me and since Antonio must grapple with so many big issues, I found myself going on the same spiritual journey with him as I realized my own feelings on the issues.
Author read alike page found here.