|n an uncommonly hot,
still day in May, Amalia Gómez, a Mexican- American woman, awakens in her bungalow unit
in one of the many decaying neighborhoods that sprout off the shabbiest part of Hollywood
Boulevard. Looking out, she
sees--or thinks she sees--a large silver cross in the otherwise clear sky. A miraculous
sign, such as she had seen in one of her favorite movies, The Song of Bernadette?
No, she thinks. "No sign would be sent to a twice-divorced woman with grown,
rebellious children and living with a man who wasn't her husband, although God was
forgiving, wasn't He?"
Now Amalia prepares to face this Saturday full of the complications
that, she believes, only a miracle could solve. Her teenage daughter, Gloria, much to
sensual for such a young girl, has been acting resentful. Her son Juan has been giving
hints that he's in trouble. Yesterday she found new, frightening gang graffiti in the
neighborhood. And her "husband," Reynaldo, has not returned since he disappeared
the night before accusing her of flirting with a young man, an encounter that turned ugly.
Worst, she is haunted by thoughts of her firstborn, Manny, dead in jail under mysterious
As she moves into the day, Amalia remembers the turbulent events of her
childhood and youth in El Paso, Texas: rape at the age of fifteen and being forced to
marry the man who violated her; marriage to Gabriel, the handsome Vietnam veteran who
became her second husband and left her after fathering two children; constant interference
by Teresa, her strong, forbidding mother.
Today, all the elements of her life seem to be converging on her. The
police are rampaging through the neighborhoods; gang wars encroach. But there are also
hopeful signs, however slight: a rose blooms on a dead bush; two questionable clairvoyants
assure her that "something big" will occur in her life. On the streets of this
"other Hollywood," Amalia has numerous encounters--some comic, some frightening.
The day of discovery leads to an ending that is as shattering as it is wondrous.
Known for his exploration of worlds seldom
seen by others, best-selling author John Rechy brings us intimately into the life of a
Chicano family in Los Angeles today, and without glancing away from the harshness of their
lives, tells their story with humor and poignancy. Blending tough realism with religious
and cultural fables, Rechy celebrates the enduring human spirit in what may well be his