Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

I thought this was kind of a strange book. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but nor can I say I liked it. It was just one of those reads where I thought about it for a moment, and was then ready to move on to the next book.

While just a young boy, Antonio’s family takes in Ultima, a respected healer in the community who also helped deliver Antonio. She knows he’s special, but his parents have differing plans for him. His mother would like him to be a priest, and his father wants him to roam with him. Antonio isn’t sure what he wants, he knows he admires Ultima and he has a deep belief in God, but there are just so many questions that he would like to have answers to. And there are so many bad things happening in his community that the questions just keep coming.

These people just didn’t seem like regular people to me. Maybe it was just a difference in culture, but somehow I don’t think so. The little boys were just heathens and acted like wild animals. Now I know little kids have lots of energy but it was extreme. And the main character, Antonio, I just didn’t feel a connection with at all, he was a little strange. I think about the only character I did end up liking was Ultima and that’s just because she was a strong woman character.

The plot was a little out there for me with everyone accusing people of different things and taking on some vigilante justice. Since they had cars and highways I figured it wasn’t too far back in the past so it just didn’t seem like things that could actually happen. And the plot just kind of meandered around without a set purpose. It just followed Antonio while he asked questions. There was some violence and death in the book but there wasn’t anything that could be considered directly offensive. And it was a quick read if nothing else. Oh, I should make note that it helps to know spanish for this book, there’s a lot in here that isn’t translated.

Just not to my taste at all and maybe there was something I missed. I just couldn’t get into this book.

Bless Me, Ultima
Copyright 1972
277 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2011

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