Thursday, April 14, 2005

Booknote: _A Place Where the Sea Remembers_ (1994)

Sandra Benitez's debut novel is a short piece with a lot of sense of place. I will be adding this writer to my list of U.S. Latino writers to keep an eye on. The novel tells the story of Candelario and Chayo, who after many years of marriage are finally going to have the child they never thought they would be able to have. It is a joyous discovery, but it is one that leads to a chain of events in their small Mexican village, and the novel eventually ends tragically. For readers who don't like tragic or sad endings, this may not be the book for them. However, the novel is worth reading. As I mentioned, it has a strong sense of place. Benitez's descriptions are excellent, full of rich images and sensory experiences. The characters are well developed. The novel is written in short chapters focusing on a particular character, almost like vignettes. It makes for easy reading, and it leaves readers with a bittersweet feeling, for even though it ends sadly, the reader may not quite want to leave the place where the sea remembers. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy the works of writers like Julia Alvarez and Sandra Cisneros.

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