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Book Reviews

The Ghost of Milagro Creek

The story of Ignacia Vigil Romero, a full Jacarilla Apache, and the two boys, Mister and Tomás, she raised to adulthood unfolds in a barrio of Taos, New Mexico-a mixed community of Native Americans, Hispanics, and whites. Now deceased, Ignacia, a curandera-a medicine woman, though some say a witch-begins this tale of star-crossed lovers.

The Ghost of Milagro Creek

The Ghost of Milagro Creek

A Novel

Author: Melanie Sumner

272 pp. Algonquin Books

The landscapes are haunting, the characters are tragic figures, the story is heartbreaking. The book is superbly written. If you love reading and learning about different cultures, you will find excellent descriptions of living in the desert areas around Taos. There is a great loneliness that such living can bring, which makes relationships in this setting so much more central to the story. The book hard to put down. Melanie Sumner has created a fascinating novel that is both simple - best friends growing up together and loving the same girl, and extremely complicated. She tells the story from multiple viewpoints and includes elements of magical realism, shamanism, Jicarilla Apache mythology and Hispanic Catholicism. The many characters in the novel each exemplify a combining of these philosophies.

Because the story is told by many characters, it is often tricky to follow. While the main plot takes place over the course of a couple weeks in April, 2001, there are time shifts as various twists in the story are revealed in flashbacks. There are also pieces of conversation that take place in Spanish and a version of barrio-speak that includes Apache words, Spanish and slang.  The book is hard to put down.


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