cover image The Flower in the Skull

The Flower in the Skull

Chronicle Books, Kathleen Alcala, Charles Simmons. Chronicle Books, $22.95 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1916-9

Starting where her Spirits of the Ordinary ended, near the time of the Mexican Revolution, the disappointing second volume of Alcal 's projected trilogy chronicles three generations of women descended from the Opata, a vanished Indian tribe from the Sonoran desert of Mexico. Separated from her family when Apaches and Mexican soldiers drive the Opata from their villages, young Shark Tooth begins a new life as a maid in Tucson, where she is renamed Concha. The Opata's strong sense of history lives on in Concha; her daughter, Rosa; and her granddaughter, Shelly, a present-day Angele a whose search for her roots mirrors Concha's homesickness for the village she knew as a child. Like the family in Alcal 's previous work, this one travels far--physically, spiritually and emotionally--in order to survive. But while the same themes of Latin American identity appear here, they too often seem reported rather than lived. (June)