Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the e-book in exchange for my honest review.
Genre: Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Jesusita is the story of immigrants—legal and illegal—trying to survive in California in the years after World War II. Jesusita, alone and impoverished, struggles to keep her four young children together. Though she finds support from Padre Montes at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, her faith won’t solve her problems, especially those with her daughter, Paulina. Far from home, Filipino laborers are denied by law any contact with white women. Angie, the young daughter of an illiterate and unmarried mother, knows only one way to make money. And Felix, abandoned by his mother and separated from his only brother, is placed in a foster home on an isolated ranch. The interrelated lives of these people provide a complex, sometimes violent, and often tragic image of American poverty within the nation’s postwar boom.
First and foremost, I must forewarn as I always do with books that can be triggering. This book does deal with anger, violence, sexual contact involving children, poverty, etc. There are some events that can be difficult to read. If these things are triggering for you, please feel free to move on from this post or review.
With that said, there were some parts that were difficult to handle.
The books begins with Jesusita who’s husband died and she is left with four children to care for. Being an illegal immigrant, the work they are left to do and the conditions that she is left to live in with her children are hard to imagine, but I have no doubt in my mind that they are true. It definitely makes you take a moment to be thankful for the things we take for granted.
We meet Angie who gets paid for sexual contact starting at the age of 6. I think it was the stories of Angie that turned my stomach the most.
Padre Montes – who does not start out as Padre Montes – was one that brought fire to my soul. I found that my thoughts and emotions mirrored a lot of his.
How the Filipino men were described and the rules among them (especially with white women) was rather interesting tome.
All in all, I have to say, Jesusita sat with me for a few days after reading it. The emotions, the events, the story stayed with me and definitely gave me something to think about for days to come.
About the Author
After reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment at the age of 17, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I knew nothing about the craft. My first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, was published 36 years later. Surprisingly, it received good reviews
For many years, I was a criminal defense attorney and at the end of my career a prosecutor, but I always managed to find time to write. What I saw and experienced during those years often serves as a basis for my writing. For me, learning how to write has been a long, continuous and, at times, torturous process.
Now retired, I try to write every day and I feel fortunate that I have found something in writing that sustains me. I’m glad I persevered during all those years of rejection. More than anything, writing about what I see and experience in life has given me a sense of worth.