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Bless Me, Ultima

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 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

16 out of 24 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2009

    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.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted November 23, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly Recommended

    The story takes place in the 1940's in Guadalupe, New Mexico where a young boy named Antonio Marez is raised. He has a mental maturity far beyond his age and is always longing for truth. His family takes in a local elderly miracle worker named Ultima, and she builds a strong bond with Antonio as he takes on the many challenges of his life. He witnesses many injustices, murders, and the death of innocent people. He is also confused by conflicting beliefs such as his household Catholicism and witchcraft, and his parents both want different things for his future. As he encounters these dramatic situations, Ultima continually mentors him and encourages him to think for himself. This theme of individualistic thinking and beliefs is constantly being preached to Antonio as he struggles with the opposing beliefs. Antonio and Ultima continue to bond through various experiences together. One day they go to dispel ghosts from a house they believe were placed there by a man named Tenorio. After Ultima dispels the ghosts Tenorio¿s daughter becomes sick and Tenorio blames Ultima. Ultima sends Antonio to his uncle¿s farm to keep him safe where one day he is chased down by Tenorio. Antonio barely escapes alive, but Tenorio shoots Ultima¿s owl. The owl is a sole part of Ultima¿s being and Ultima soon dies. Through all his hardships Antonio is reminded by Ultima that he needs to take all of them into account and use them to form his beliefs.
    Personally, I enjoyed the way the book was written, and the theme of individualistic thinking, and it is hard to come up with criticism. If anything there was unnecessary detail Anaya could have left out. Overall, the book helped me see the big picture in my beliefs and that criticism should never keep me from sharing them. If you are looking for something inspirational in the spiritual sense, nothing beats Bless Me, Ultima.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2006

    Summer Reading List

    This was quite an interesting book. I will be attending a Catholic school and I had to read these books before the new school year began, so I figured they would all have a religous theme. This one did, as Antonio was searching for answers about his faith and beliefs, but it also had many references to witchcraft and evil spirits. Also, I was extremely disappointed and appauled at the use of the 'F-word' and other unmentionables more than once in conversations with his unbelievably impolite friends.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2001

    Best book this year

    This is the best book I have read this year. It is suspenseful and funny. It kept me on the edge of my seat ever since I began reading it. It would have gotten four stars had it not been for the abundance of vulgar language used in it. Other than that it was awesome.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    American Classic Must Read! A life changing, thought changing bo

    American Classic Must Read!
    A life changing, thought changing book. It is so well written, the reader feels all the emotion, tension, and passion of the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2008

    Fight for what you believe in

    Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is about a young boy named Antonio who is conflicted with internal and external problems. The story turns on his connection to a healer named Ultima. After the old woman comes to live with him and his family in New Mexico, many doubts rise within him. Doubts about God, religion, good and evil torment Antonio on a daily basis. He is also faced with the struggle between his mother wanting him to be like a Luna 'her family', not like a Marez, 'his father¿s family'. The pressure is great from his parents. Maria Marez, Antonio¿s mother is a devout catholic who dreams of her last son becoming a priest. On the other hand Gabriel Marez, Antonio¿s father, who is a dreamer, a vaquero, a man of freedom, wishes for his son to follow in his footsteps and maybe someday decide to move to California with him. Ultima plays a strong role in Antonio¿s life. Since she helped at the birth of Antonio, she knows what lies in Antonio¿s future. As soon as Antonio meets Ultima, he feels a strong bond towards her, a connection unlike any other. That fall Antonio begins school where he learns many different things from all of his new friends. Antonio witnesses many things during Ultima¿s stay with the family. Events that haunt him and scar him. Within a year Antonio grows from a child into a young man. Antonio is a young boy with immense knowledge and courage. He is very smart and is very mature for his age. I like Antonio because he is not much like the other boys from his school. He is very courageous because he stands up for what he believes in and protects Ultima at all cost. Although the town sees Ultima as a witch, Antonio knows who she really is. Ultima is a woman of sincere nobility and with her magic powers she helps anyone she can. She even helps Antonio¿s uncle. Ultima teaches Antonio about the beauty that is in nature and the powers nature has to heal. Since Ultima has helped so many, he cherishes her and wants her to be safe. She is like a second mother to him. Many symbols and themes are in the story. From religious images, magical items, trying to find identity, the importance of moral independence and dreams, the importance of family, learning and education. Antonio takes all of this into consideration and wants to discover who he really is. Ultima considers Antonio to be ¿a man of learning.¿ I admire Antonio because he likes to learn and that is something valuable. I relate a lot to Bless Me, Ultima, because I am familiar with the religious things in the story. I come from a Catholic background such as Antonio, and like Antonio at times I am confused about my religion. I do not understand why God allows certain things to happen. Like Antonio I am on a quest to find what is right for me. I understand how Antonio feels and I know where he comes from. I know what it¿s like to feel pressure from my parents and others who want me to be a certain way. I don¿t like how Antonio¿s mom tries to make him want to be a priest. Antonio is trapped between his mother¿s wishes, his father¿s goals, and his own dreams. I recommend this book to everyone, especially young adults. I think young adults can identify with Antonio and learn from him that it¿s alright to stand up for their dreams. Everyone who reads Bless Me, Ultima will become inspired by this young boy and will definitely learn something positive.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    Bless Me, Ultima: A Student's Perspective

    'Bless Me, Ultima', written by Rudolfo Anaya is a Spanish coming of age tale. It tells the story of a boy's fascinating experiences throughout a year and how he grows and develops so much. This book takes place outside of a town in New Mexico called Guadalupe. A Curandera named Ultima comes and stays as a houseguest with the Marez family. A Curandera is a person who heals with magic herbs and remedies. Antonio, the youngest in the family, becomes fascinated with Ultima's healing powers. They spend much time with each other and become friends. Antonio picks herbs and spices every day with Ultima. However, early in the novel, a war veteran by the name of Lupito kills the sheriff of the town. A group of men, including Antonios father go looking for Lupito. Being his curious self, Antonio follows his father and witnesses the shooting of Lupito. Lupito asks Antonio to bless him when he is dying. Antonio runs home crying. All night he thinks about what will happen to the veteran's soul. That fall it is time for Antonio to go to school. The children make fun of him for his Spanish culture. He starts to eat lunch with other kids who are like him. Later that year, Lucas, Antonio's uncle becomes sick and needs help from Ultima. Three daughters of a man named Tenorio casted spell on Lucas one night. Ultima and Antonio confront Tenorio. Ultima begins a violent ritual on Tenorio and puts Antonio in a sleeping state. When Antonio wakes up, he throws up and the ritual is completed, Lucas is healed. Sometime later, one of Tenorio's daughter mysteriously dies and a man named Narcisco tells Ultima that Tenorio is coming with a mob to kill her. They come and to see if Ultima is witch they see if she can walk under a cross. She does and the mob goes away but Tenorio still wants to kill her. That Fall Antonio returns to school. On the first day of school a boy named Ernie picks a fight with Antonio by insulting Ultima. They get into a fight but it is broken up. No one gets punished and everyone laughs about it because it is the first day. One day after school, Antonio sees Narcisco and Tenorio fighting. He then hears a gun-shot and screams. Tenorio had shot Narcisco. He runs home and becomes very sick. He has a dream that the sisters kill him and his entire family. He recovers after a week and is getting ready to make his first confession and first communion. He is eager for communion because he thinks that when god is inside of him, all his religious questions will be answered. This does not happen. One day a boy named Cico and Antonio go to the river where swimming is not allowed and see a group of boys signaling to them. Florence had gone swimming and drowned. When the rescuers arrive, they tell them that they told Florence not to swim. After this, Antonio decides to spend the summer with the Lunas, his mother's side of the family. If you want to figure out the ending, you are just going to have to read 'BLESS ME, ULTIMA'

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    grownup kids book

    boy growing up in diverse changing atmosphere

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    Bless Me Ultima was an amazing page turner. The beginning did no

    Bless Me Ultima was an amazing page turner. The beginning did not start off well in my opinion, but by the time I hit the middle, I could not put the book down. Trying to figue out what the Spanish words meant was not the easiest thing to do, but helped the story seem real and intriguing. This book was one book that I actually enjoyed reading. Lastly, the only other thing i could mention about this book would be the ending, and how it made me want more because I feel as if the protagonist's duty was not finiished.

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  • Posted December 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A book that challenges it readers to look outside the box.

    Bless Me Ultima is a book that inspires the reader to view the world through the eyes of a different culture, creed, and belief. It combines the views of a small town Chicano boy, Antonio, and mixes them with the world around him. He struggles to find truth and meaning while attempting to live up to his families expectations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2007

    great book!!!

    I Ithink that this was a great book. It was written really well and everyone should give it a chance. I have recomended it to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    Beware Reviewers - A School Required Read

    Keep in mind most of the one-star reviews are from 'typical high school kids,' so please give the book a chance for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2005

    A magical book

    Bless Me, Ultima is about a six year old boy¿s quest for knowledge. The main characters were Antonio Marez, a six year old boy, and Ultima, an old lady. Antonio tries to figure out many things that he experiences in his young life. Ultima is an old friend of the Marez family, and she comes to New Mexico to stay with them. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic, and she fights evil away from the Marez family. Antonio and Ultima run into problems with Tenorio Trementina and three witches who are his daughters. In the story Antonio wants to know if he is more like his father¿s family, the Marez, or his mother¿s family, the Luna¿s. I think everyone has thought about this once in their life. I have wondered if I¿m more like my father¿s or mother¿s side of the family. This remains a mystery to Antonio and everyone who has thought about this topic before. Many people would have different opinions about Antonio. I can relate to Antonio because he wants to be like both his father¿s and mother¿s family. I feel the same way with my family. I did like Bless Me, Ultima. My favorite part of the book was the Christmas play. The play takes place in the school auditorium and nothing goes right. All the kids misbehave, and Miss Violet couldn¿t control them. The play was a disaster. I didn¿t like the parts when Antonio is dreaming. His dreams are about people asking him for help. I think those parts could have been cut out and it wouldn¿t have made a difference. I recommend this book. The type of person who would like this book is someone who likes suspense and adventure. But I think everyone would enjoy reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2002

    Toni, Toni, Toni!!

    Bless me, Ultima is and inspiring book about a young boy trying to learn about life and religion. Antonio (Toni) Marez was forced into being a Catholic, but had insights into Protestantism, Witch Craft, and Peganism. He did this all while still going to school, protecting loved ones and being a child. I enjoyed watching Toni grow up and overcome four horrendus murders and two unexplainable cures. The revenge driven murders of his friends, family, and enemies left Toni nothing to do but grow up, and grow up quickly. Also after two miraculous cures of his uncles Toni was left with a feeling that the world was not all bad. In the end, Rudolfo Anayla took what seemed to be a normal story of a child growing up in a Mexican-American culture and added enough twists and turns to make it a book that is hard to put down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2001

    Great novel!

    Anaya writes of a Mexican-American family and the struggle between good and evil. I recommend you to read this novel especially if you are interested in magical realism and war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2001

    It is a great book

    This book is exicted and filled with hope as a little boy trys to find his true religion and true god.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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