Agave Blues

Ruthie Marlenée. Touchpoint, $15.99 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-952816-87-1

Marlenée (Isabela’s Island) wraps a touching mother-daughter reconciliation in a freewheeling road trip narrative. Los Angeles attorney Maya Miller has her hands full with her prickly daughter, Lily, so a call from a Mexican morgue to identify her father Joaquin Hidalgo’s corpse is the last thing she needs. Maya’s mother had whisked her away from her alcoholic father when she was 10, and the mother and daughter rarely looked back. Partly to escape the chaos of her life and partly to see Lily, who studies at the University of Guadalajara, Maya sets off for Mexico, but the trip triggers vivid childhood memories of Papa, particularly one in which he tells Maya that he’s Pancho Villa’s son. Marlenee’s fanciful yarn has more than a whiff of Cervantes, as Maya uncovers rich aspects of her heritage at every way station. In one of many coincidental but appealing anecdotes, she encounters a man painting in a field who remembers her. Meanwhile, the Pancho Villa question finally gets a definitive answer, and Maya reconnects with a childhood love. It can be a bit sentimental, but on the whole Marlenée keeps up a wondrous, life-affirming ambience. This has the feel of a Hallmark movie, but one of the better ones. (Feb.)
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