Saturday, September 3, 2011

María Juana’s Gift

By T. Lloyd Winestsky

From the back of the book:

Set during America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976, María Juana’s Gift tells the story of Jake and Tina, a young teaching couple fighting for the survival of their infant daughter born on the Arizona-Mexico border. The baby appears healthy to Jake and the unconcerned staff at the small hospital, but Tina and a custodian/nurse’s helper from Mexico named Maria believe the child is ill. Maria’s lowly status and lack of English cause the medical staff to dismiss her concerns. After the women convince Jake that something is wrong, he begins a frantic effort to secure medical attention for the baby.

Just my opinion:

I found myself totally immersed in this story. Here is a young couple who are fighting for the life of their baby, who is struggling to survive. They can see the infant is having serious problems, but no one at the hospital will believe them. Will they get the baby the help she needs before it’s too late?

This is a very well-written book on several levels, especially the descriptions of the area where it takes place and the characters themselves. It also provides insight into the struggles that people endure in depressed areas of our country.

The main characters – Jake and Tina – are well-educated, but they have chosen to help those who many ignore. They are teachers and their plans include giving those less fortunate the opportunity to better their lives through education. That goal takes them to a small, remote town on the border shared by Arizona and Mexico, where necessities are often scarce, such as medical care. The few doctors in the area are over-worked and exhausted. They are also somewhat ambivalent to the needs of their patients.

It’s an interesting story and quite an eye-opener. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some favorite passages from the book:

The latest name for this is English immersion, an insidious idea that assumes the brain of a second language learner is tabula rasa, a blank slate.

Laughter is a great thing unless you use it to hide your real problems.

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