María Amparo Escandón

"Esperanza's Box of Saints"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAR 6, 1999)

Esperanza's Box of Saints

Esperanza Díaz has just lost her twelve-year- old daughter to an unexplained, sudden virus. 

When Esperanza last saw her Blanca she had been in the hospital to have her tonsils removed and had been fully recovered to the extent that she was about to come home, when she is suddenly reported dead.  The night of the funeral Esperanza experiences a vision from San Judas Tadeo, patron saint of desperate cases, when he appears on her greasy oven window.  (See there is a reason not to clean these things!)  He tells her that her daughter is not dead...  She pieces together that Blanca was kidnapped by the doctor (who is also mysteriously dead) and sold as a prostitute.  Esperanza sets off with her box of saints to look for dirty ovens and her daughter.  Soledad, her friend since childhood and godmother to Blanca, does not share this same religious fervor and fears that Esperanza is in extreme grief and denial.  As the reader, I make no judgements.

This story of Esperanza's quest to find her daughter is truly fun. It takes her from her native town in Vera Cruz to Tijuana, then to the Mexican side of LA and finally back home again. The humor of her innocence, the language of her thoughts and the colorfulness of her prayers are truly enjoyable. I loved every word of Esperanza's dialog with her priest and the priest's dialog with God, her encounters with men at the brothels and her prayers to the saints. This book is a perfect example of the magical realism that sets the Latin American books apart from the rest of the world.

  •   Amazon readers' rating: from 54 reviews

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About the Author:

Maria Amparo EscandonMaría Amparo Escondón was born and raised in Mexico City  She wrote in Spanish only until about ten years ago when she learned English.  Now she writes fluently in both languages. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension, and her stories have been published in many magazines. 

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