Under the Feet of Jesus

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Penguin, 1996 - Fiction - 180 pages
At the center of this powerful tale is Estrella, a girl about to cross over the perilous border to womanhood. What she knows of life comes from her mother, who has survived abandonment by her husband in a land that treats her as if she were invisible, even though she and her children pick the crops of the farms that feed its people...from the aging but iron-bodied man who reluctantly becomes the head of the family, even as dreams of his youth in Mexico are calling him home...and from the endless highways and vast fields of California, where they travel and work together. But within Estrella, seeds of growth and change are stirring. And in the arms of Alejo, only a few years older than herself, they burst into full fierce flower, as she tastes the joy and pain of first love. Estrella begins to listen to her own inner voice in giving herself to that love. She comes to learn the value of life and discovers her own power to defy a system that would otherwise keep her down. Pushed to the margins of society, she learns to fight back and is able to help the young farmworker she loves when his ambitions and very life are threatened in a harvest of death. Infused with the beauty of the California landscape and shifting splendors of the passing seasons juxtaposed with the bleakness of poverty, this vividly imagined novel, so observant and full of wisdom, is worthy of the people it celebrates and whose story it tells so magnificently. The simple lyrical beauty of Viramontes's prose, her haunting use of image and metaphor, and the urgency of her themes all announce Under the Feet of Jesus as a landmark work of American fiction.

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User Review  - sgemmell - LibraryThing

This historical fiction is an engaging read for students of AP Language and Composition and Honors American Literature. The reality of the migrant struggle of a young Lationo woman and her family is ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

A lyrical coming-of-age novel about the bleak, hand-to-mouth existence of migrant workers and the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity. Viramontes (The Moths and Other Stories, 1985 ... Read full review



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About the author (1996)

Helena Maria Viramontes is the author of the novel Under the Feet of Jesus and the story collection The Moths. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, Ms. Viramontes currently lives in Ithaca, New York, where she is a creative writing professor at Cornell University.

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