Customer Reviews for

Bless Me, Ultima

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

An original story.

I liked the aspect of mystery and how it is told from the perspective of an innocent young boy who is forced to grow up as he witnesses and experiences life. Great symbolism and writing style.

posted by 1539804 on August 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

17 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

A blessing in book form

I've intended to read Anaya since I read an excerpt of his work a couple of years back in a high level course about Spanish literature. We were discussing the genre of "magical realism."

Bless Me, Ultima is an intriguing story told by a very interesting narrator, yo...
I've intended to read Anaya since I read an excerpt of his work a couple of years back in a high level course about Spanish literature. We were discussing the genre of "magical realism."

Bless Me, Ultima is an intriguing story told by a very interesting narrator, young Antonio Luna-Marez. The narrative style is smooth and clean. The story itself is compelling and thought provoking.

My biggest "problem" with the book was that the 6-8 year old narrator felt a bit too old. I acknowledge that this is a case of a retrospective narrator looking back with a more mature eye. But still, its not distinguishable where the "mature" future narrator is superimposing his thoughts over those of his younger self. While I have met pensive and thoughtful 6 year olds who ask deep questions, I haven't met one that runs so deeply in such an intense and thorough thought process for a period of multiple years of self-discovery and exploration of life's heavier themes. Even then, Anaya's writing still is fresh and honest and I only found myself jarred a couple of times at the thought of Antonio's young age juxtaposed with his mature thoughts.

The themes and plot of the story were well constructed and resulted in a well driven flow of the ~2 years of Antonio's life that we're exploring. The closely knit themes of family, religion, identity and purpose are presented to the reader as highly pressing themes that are bearing down on our narrator but without any imminent resolution.

In fact, as time goes on, Antonio uncovers more questions and problems rather than finding new answers. Torn between his father's wild "wanderlust"-filled rancher family and his mother's grounded, earth-bound farming family, Antonio struggles to figure out how he can please each of his parents. This struggle is amplified by his mother's intense Catholicism and his father's free-spirit and Ultima's mysticism. Later in the book, yet another religious influence appears, closely related to Ultima's views, and yet still different.

Antonio wants to honor his parents, to honor God, and to fulfill his destiny. Unfortunately, he is constantly conflicted when trying to honor one parent without disappointing the other and he is filled with more and more doubts the closer he gets to a possible understanding of God. His destiny seems to be constantly sliding away from him as he tries to unravel it.

The ending of this book further exemplifies its genre of magical realism and while I can accept it for what it is, it left me a little unsettled. That's probably part of the purpose. This isn't a book that wants to answer life's deep questions for you. Rather, it wants to help you understand how to approach those questions and seek the answers on your own. This is a compelling and interesting look at one life caught between many alternating influences.

Even if you don't live in a small farming/ranching pueblo in New Mexico, there is a good chance you can take some of the themes and questions from this book and apply them to your own life in some way. Everybody, in some form or another, has some sort of opposite influences pulling them in different directions each for good reasons and with great arguments. How we deal with those confusing moral conundrums is the core definition of our identity.

posted by theokester on June 15, 2009

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A blessing in book form

    I've intended to read Anaya since I read an excerpt of his work a couple of years back in a high level course about Spanish literature. We were discussing the genre of "magical realism."

    Bless Me, Ultima is an intriguing story told by a very interesting narrator, young Antonio Luna-Marez. The narrative style is smooth and clean. The story itself is compelling and thought provoking.

    My biggest "problem" with the book was that the 6-8 year old narrator felt a bit too old. I acknowledge that this is a case of a retrospective narrator looking back with a more mature eye. But still, its not distinguishable where the "mature" future narrator is superimposing his thoughts over those of his younger self. While I have met pensive and thoughtful 6 year olds who ask deep questions, I haven't met one that runs so deeply in such an intense and thorough thought process for a period of multiple years of self-discovery and exploration of life's heavier themes. Even then, Anaya's writing still is fresh and honest and I only found myself jarred a couple of times at the thought of Antonio's young age juxtaposed with his mature thoughts.

    The themes and plot of the story were well constructed and resulted in a well driven flow of the ~2 years of Antonio's life that we're exploring. The closely knit themes of family, religion, identity and purpose are presented to the reader as highly pressing themes that are bearing down on our narrator but without any imminent resolution.

    In fact, as time goes on, Antonio uncovers more questions and problems rather than finding new answers. Torn between his father's wild "wanderlust"-filled rancher family and his mother's grounded, earth-bound farming family, Antonio struggles to figure out how he can please each of his parents. This struggle is amplified by his mother's intense Catholicism and his father's free-spirit and Ultima's mysticism. Later in the book, yet another religious influence appears, closely related to Ultima's views, and yet still different.

    Antonio wants to honor his parents, to honor God, and to fulfill his destiny. Unfortunately, he is constantly conflicted when trying to honor one parent without disappointing the other and he is filled with more and more doubts the closer he gets to a possible understanding of God. His destiny seems to be constantly sliding away from him as he tries to unravel it.

    The ending of this book further exemplifies its genre of magical realism and while I can accept it for what it is, it left me a little unsettled. That's probably part of the purpose. This isn't a book that wants to answer life's deep questions for you. Rather, it wants to help you understand how to approach those questions and seek the answers on your own. This is a compelling and interesting look at one life caught between many alternating influences.

    Even if you don't live in a small farming/ranching pueblo in New Mexico, there is a good chance you can take some of the themes and questions from this book and apply them to your own life in some way. Everybody, in some form or another, has some sort of opposite influences pulling them in different directions each for good reasons and with great arguments. How we deal with those confusing moral conundrums is the core definition of our identity.

    17 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    good book!

    i liked the book. it was challenging to read if you do not understand spanish. overall i recomend the book to everyone.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2003

    Interesting, but Annoying

    'Bless Me, Ultima' is, overall, a good book. The descriptions of young Tony's dreams are vivid and beautiful, and this book contains loads of symbolism. However, its Roman Catholic characters believe almost grossly inaccurate theology. Since this book is based around religion, their 'bad' theology can be misleading and even angering at times. Also, this book does not really end, rather it comes to an abrupt stop. Despite this, it is still quite an intersting book, making it decent and worth the read.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2000

    An interesting book

    I was a bit unsatisfied with this novel. I had never read anything from a Chicano author until this. It was an interesting view on Catholicism, though. I thought it was quite curious that the mother is a devout Catholic, and yet she houses a curendera. I am not familiar with Catholicism, but I would not think that this would be something completely 'right' in the eyes of the church. I was, however, enthralled with Anaya's incredible use of imagery. I could actually see what he was describing to me. I rarely see this anymore, so it was a breath of fresh air to see an author that actually knows how to use literary devices. I would recommend this book, but, if you are not familiar with espanol you may have a problem understanding parts of it. Most of the conversations between the family members are written in spanish, and it made it very interesting to read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    i would say this book is ehhhh...its kinda boring with a lot of

    i would say this book is ehhhh...its kinda boring with a lot of profanity, and weird stuff..i just read it because I had to do a book report on it. it is not good for such young ages to read because of all the inappropriate wordings and events that occur.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 16, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    I enjoyed this book in high school and again recently. With the movie coming out, I wanted to refresh my memory and see how true to the book the script will be. :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2008

    if you get bord...

    this book was dissapointing, not that into it. the story line was a little funky, and i wouldn't want to read it again.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2001

    Geography Application Project

    I read Bless Me, Ultima for an application of the Five Themes of Geography project for Honors Geography 9. The book was helpful for my project, giving many details and examples of the five themes of geography. It especially touched upon the theme of culture. Throughout the book, Antonio learned the culture of his people and made his own decisions about the way of life he was going to live. Rudolfo Anaya did an excellent job of helping the reader step into the book and become its characters. It was well written and easy to follow. However, from a spiritual perspective, I really did not agree with Bless Me, Ultima. In the book, Antonio undergoes a confused childhood, trying to make sense of the different religions of his friends and family. When he doesn't find one he likes, he decides to make his own. I didn't like that part of the book because I am a Christian and Antonio's beliefs go against my own. However, the rest of the book was interesting and held my attention.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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