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The Fifth Sun

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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5 Star

(1)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2005

    More than Five Stars

    The Fifth Sun is a book that once you begin to read it, you cannot put it down. It speaks to the heart and soul of almost everyone. Mercedes, the main character, and Jesse, her husband, unbeknown to one another, make their way from their birthplaces in the 1920's Mexico: the 13-year-old Mercedes having left because of the tragic death from lockjaw of her 29-year-old mother; the equally young Jesse having left to make his way in the world. While Mercedes earns her living as a house maid to a wealthy Mexican family that has moved to New Orleans, Jesse works his way up from Mexico, through the Southwest, working meanial jobs-both of them seeking a better life in the US. Mercedes and Jesse eventully meet in New Orleans, and after a brief courtship marry. Life is very difficult for them in the Depression-era America. Constant challenges arise not only from the difficulty of finding work but also from Jesse's macho'Mexican pride and his unwillingness to accept the contentment he feels with Mercedes and their growing family. His rebellion against domesticity will not allow him to see Mercedes beyond her role as subservient wife. Yet her hidden strength often bewilders him for she is a contrast of timidity and boldness, of obedience and rebellion, as she struggles to gain a foothold for herself and her family with or without her husband's help. Outwardly timid, her resilience and inner strength nevertheless enable her to survive such harrowing experiences as that of swimming the river in an advanced state of pregnancy, her incarceration at the Border, a murderous attack by a crazed curandera, and her wily and successful attempt to escape the Border Jailhouse at Larado. There is a deep and abiding love between Mercedes and Jesse that transcends time and circumstances, a love that is not apparent to the senses--a mystical bond that, despite all obstacles, keeps bringing them back together. There are other wonderful characters who alternately help and hinder the main characters way but they will be left for the reader to discover in this book. The Fifth Sun is a story of survival, of immigration, of alienation, of 'the human struggle to achieve spiritual wholeness' but above all it is the story of Mercedes and Jesse, of their love of their children, that endures through hard times, and a hope that overcomes nearly impossible circumstances. This great love, produces near the end of the book, a girl-child who knows no boundaries but her own. The writer of this book, Mary Helen Lagasse uses her words as a painter paints a picture making the pages colorful, alive, and full of all the sounds, smells and feelings that exits in all her characters circumstances, especially Mercedes and Jesse. We'll hear more from this writer - she like Mercedes - cannot be stopped by the beleaguered world of publishing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    More Than Four Stars

    The Fifth Sun is thoroughly enjoyable, and true to its title: the main character holds back destruction in her ongoing struggle to achieve wholeness: for herself, for her marriage, for her children, her extended family, the world she knows. This is not a conscious undertaking on the part of the main character: like many women she knows what she has to do and she does it, no matter the circumstances or odds ranged against her. The Fifth Sun is an odyssey not just of the woman Mercedes but of the heart and soul as she encounters the various milestones many women find in their own lives. If four and a half stars were a B&N option, this is what I would have given. Well written, there are numerous passages that can only be described as exquisite. This book is worth more than a second read and I applaud Curbstone Press for selecting it for the Marmol Prize.

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