Jesusita by Ronald Ruiz
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.
Jesusita, tells the story of one woman who has struggled to earn a living in a country that is not accepting of her culture and a society that would do anything to keep their existence hidden.
Jesusita is the main character in this novel and the other characters seem to move around her and as we get to the later half of the book we understand the importance of finding out about the lives of Angie and Felix. It is from her the story flows and that we learn about the others tied in to her story and her struggles. She suffers to keep a roof over her children’s heads and food in their stomachs. This is a pain that I can not even begin to imagine experiencing as a Mother. The emotional and physical strain takes a toll on her and we can witness this through the relationships between herself and her children.
It is God that helps her through her darkest moments but also that helps her hide her frustrations and angers instead of dealing with them. She hides behind the perfect image she portrays to her religious family, while her home life falls apart.
Jesusita was a fascinating novel, that at times was hard to follow but near the end of the novel the story comes together full circle. It is complex, intricate but fascinating at the same time. A very good read!
About the Author
After reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment at the age of 17, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I knew nothing about the craft. My first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, was published 36 years later. Surprisingly, it received good reviews
For many years, I was a criminal defense attorney and at the end of my career a prosecutor, but I always managed to find time to write. What I saw and experienced during those years often serves as a basis for my writing. For me, learning how to write has been a long, continuous and, at times, torturous process.
Now retired, I try to write every day and I feel fortunate that I have found something in writing that sustains me. I’m glad I persevered during all those years of rejection. More than anything, writing about what I see and experience in life has given me a sense of worth.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.