Treasures in Heaven

Kathleen Alcala, Author Chronicle Books $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8118-2953-3
This last installment in Alcal 's trilogy of loosely linked novels, which began with the award-winning Spirits of the Ordinary and The Flower in the Skull, resumes the story of well-born Estela and her young son, No . Escaping the scandal surrounding her family and fugitive husband, Zacar!as, Estela and No leave their small town for a new life in turn-of-the-century Mexico City. Soon running out of money and hope, Estela contacts her former lover, handsome Dr. Victor Carranza, only to discover that he is married. Victor helps Estela by introducing her to liberal-minded ""La Se$orita,"" a woman of wealth and style, who uses her money to help the poor. She hires Estela to run a school for the children of prostitutes. Both Estela and No become involved in the birth of Mexico's social revolution, coming of age in a corrupt society where the rich enjoy material treasures, the wise enjoy spiritual treasures and the poor must wait for their ""treasures in heaven."" Alcal 's extensive research provides pertinent information about the political and economic turbulence preceding the Mexican RevolutionDfrom underground feminist actions to the contradictory roles of the Catholic Church as both agent of insurrection and supporter of the government. Alcal 's championship of the redemptive power of change, one's duty to community and family, equality of the sexes and spiritual enlightenment still resonate, but her saga has lost much of its freshness. Unfortunately, the dynamic historical facts aren't enough to redeem a weak plot and banal characters. The Flower in the Skull disappointed many of those who enjoyed Spirits of the Ordinary; regrettably, this third volume will not restore readers' faith in Alcal , and may fare poorly. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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