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When A Woman Rises

Library Journal

Veronica, a young Maya woman in Chiapas, Mexico, has persuaded her mother, Magdalena, to participate in an oral history project by recording stories of her life, in particular, those memories of her now-missing best friend, Lucia. Magdalena recounts their childhood days of deficiency and hardship, marked by substandard education and prejudice against her indigenous community. While Magdalena chooses an early marriage and motherhood, the expected path for women in their fictional town of Lokan, Lucia becomes a skilled and respected healer. Lucia’s attraction to the kind Madre Ester, a local nun, confuses and isolates her, and she turns to alcohol. The women become involved with the Zapatista political movement and learn about community organizing, cooperative economic efforts, and political resistance. When poverty drives Lucia to look for work away from Lokan, Magdalena’s premonition of great harm befalling her friend threatens to become reality. Anthropologist Eber has done extensive fieldwork among the Maya in Chiapas and has written extensively about the area and its people (e.g., 2011’s The Journey of a Tzotzil-Maya Woman of Chiapas, Mexico: Pass Well over the Earth). Presenting her years of findings and impressions in this fictionalized form is a powerful way to bring the lives of these women to light.

Verdict: Eber writers compellingly, and fans of contemporary fiction investigating conflicts between traditional and modern mores, men and women, and political factions should enjoy this one.
- Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, July 12, 2018  Visit Website

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