Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: CLAY HILLS AND MUD PIES by Annie Mary Perez

Today we review Clay Hills and Mud Pies by Annie Mary Perez.

Skeletons abound in this revealing but poignant biography recounting a Mexican American family’s one hundred year history in the United States. Three Memoirs in one, this San Diego Book Awards Finalist is rich with Mexican folklore and Americana. In Book One, which opens with a ghost story, the author describes her father’s life growing up motherless in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It includes early memories of sleeping in abandoned houses, working for his aunt, who was a bootlegger, riding the rails as a youth, serving in World War II, and finally, marrying her mother in February of 1946. In Book Two she describes her mother’s life growing up on a dairy farm in Mesilla, New Mexico during the Depression. It includes early memories of picking cotton as a child and the first of a series of prophetic dreams. It also includes stories of her grandmother’s encounter with the Twelve Apostles and her grandfather’s finding buried treasure. In Book Three, she describes her own life growing up in a Los Angeles barrio, early memories of domestic violence, her parents’ divorce, caring for her parents in their declining years, and ultimately, dealing with the loss. The book concludes with her father’s philosophies on youth and life

Reviewed by: Sandra L.
Rating: 4 stars

Review: This is a soulful collection of short stories of young girl's family, spanning over 3 generations. The author takes the reader on a captivating tour through U.S. history as experienced from the Chicano POV. Each segment tells the story of three main characters: Santiago, Mary, and Annie.                                                         

In "The Maroon Convertible," we learn why Annie's father, Santiago, had his license revoked and why he never drove again. A religion folklore may suddenly bring vengeance in "Grandma and the 12 Apostles." And I had such empathy for Annie's mom, Mary, with having to put up with all the molestation and harassment in "All her working days." Of course, things only got worse when she married Santiago, who was a drunk, an abuser, and a womanizer, making her regret a decision in "Married Life."

I thoroughly enjoyed the joyful tales of barrio life, which were reminiscent of my own childhood. A quick and endearing read.

My only criticism was that some of these stories were too short, which didn't allow the reader to fully submerge in the tales. For me, a new book is like standing at the peak of high diving board―I just want to dive right in!

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