Rudolfo Anaya's coming-of-age story, set in 1940s New Mexico, never comes close to escaping its novelistic origins — do we really need a narrator to tell us that wise old woman Ultima "taught me to listen to the living earth and to feel complete in the mystery of its time"? But it does strive to take seriously the many forces at work on a young and watchful Chicano: the temperaments of mother and father, the good and bad examples set by relatives, small-town culture, and most importantly, the struggle between taught religion and experienced mysticism. (Ultima has a magic owl and the power to break curses; what do you have, God?) A sincere, warmly photographed effort, if not quite an expert realization. 2013.

1.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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