Still Water Saints

Alex Espinoza, Author
Alex Espinoza, Author . Random $23.95 (242p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6539-4
Reviewed on: 10/09/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-3498-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4332-3501-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-3497-2
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-330-44604-4
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-0-330-44602-0
Open Ebook - 163 pages - 978-1-299-09355-3
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-1-4472-4830-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 215 pages - 978-1-58836-575-0
Paperback - 257 pages - 978-0-8129-7627-4
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4332-3503-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-3500-9
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Perla Portillo, 72, owns the unofficial spiritual center of the Southern California Agua Mansa community: at Botánica Oshún, she doles out relics, potions and sage advice to clients coping with death, wrestling with transsexual identity and seeking refuge from sexual predation. In telling their stories, Espinoza skillfully weaves together the alternating narrative viewpoints of Perla and her customers. Poignantly rendered are Azúcar, a transgendered dancer who is given an unexpected chance at motherhood while mourning the loss of a friend, and Rodrigo Zamora, a Michoacán teen illegal recovering from a traumatic crossing. Encroaching violence in the community shakes Perla's confidence in the talismanic power of her wares and words. The significance of her constant presence amid the changing situation is clear to many of her returning customers, but Perla must redefine her position within the community in order to find strength to change along with the world. The parade of affliction can get wearisome, and Espinoza, making his debut, doesn't quite bring Perla all the way into focus. But he handles the proceedings with a steady, well-rounded reportage that suits the story. (Feb. 6)

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