Bless Me, Ultima

Bless Me, Ultima

3.9 123
by Rudolfo Anaya

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Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of his prose. Acclaimed in both Spanish and English, Anaya is perhaps best loved for his classic bestseller ... Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with


Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of his prose. Acclaimed in both Spanish and English, Anaya is perhaps best loved for his classic bestseller ... Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father's wisdom, and in his mother's Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul.

(68,000 words)

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Besides winning the Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award, this novel of a young boy in New Mexico in the 1940s has sold more than 300,000 copies in paperback since its 1973 debut. Here, however, the book gets the hardcover treatment, with a few illustrations added for color. LJ's reviewer asserted that ``the novel has warmth and feeling'' (LJ 2/1/73) and a place in all fiction collections, especially those serving Chicano populations.

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Grand Central Publishing
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Meet the Author

Rudolfo Anaya is professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He has won numerous literary awards: the Premio Quinto Sol National Chicano literary award, the 2007 Notable New Mexican Award, and the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction for his novel Alburquerque. He is best loved for his classic bestseller Bless Me, Ultima, which the NEA has chosen as part of their Big Read program for 2007. His other works include Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, Jalamanta, Tortuga, Heart of Aztlan, and The Anaya Reader. He has also written numerous short stories, essays, and children's books, including The Farolitos of Christmas and Maya's Children.

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Bless Me Ultima (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
theokester More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i liked the book. it was challenging to read if you do not understand spanish. overall i recomend the book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story book. If you're not Mexican American, it will be hard for you to relate to and understand this story. You have to have an OPEN mind to appreciate things that that are foreign to you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. The themes in this book are something we can all relate too. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to discover more about culture and fokelore. Two thumbs up !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago on a recommendation...glad I bought it because I LOVED IT. Couldn't put it down, in fact I read it twice & it even inspired me to write a piece. The ending made me cry like a baby. Complex book, not for everyone, not all will grasp it's depth.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my goodness. The ending. I cried. I had to read the book for school, I didn't think I'd enjoy it but I love it. It brought up so many of the same questions I have about religion too. Antonio was very relatable but I would agree that neither him nor his friends sounded their age. They sounded more like middle schoolers. My other gripe is the potrayel of girls, obviously Ultima is a wonderful character, but the school girls and Antonio's sisters all seemed to be the same character. Nitpicking aside, the writing and description was beautiful. I love it.
jasisawesome More than 1 year ago
this book is ABSOLUTELY amazing. im a very picky person when it comes to books, so im skeptical when i see awards on a novel's cover. i don't know how to even describe it. it is captivating, thrilling, and has an amazing story line. the characters seem real. i have read books by many acclaimed authors--James Baldwin, Chuck Palahnuick, Maya Angelou, and many more. this book's greatness is unnoticed. i suggest this book to anyone who liked 'to kill a mockingbird' by harper lee, or anybody who wants to read a rather short but touching book. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when i was in 8th grade. It's almost been fifteen years since i read it yet its still embedded in my brain. This book has impacted my soul and mind so much that i am looking to read it all over again. I hope that my son will love this book as much as i did...its superb!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely a classic. Rudolfo Anaya has captured the essence of chicanismo in this book that is the history of a people so often forgotten. Anyone who says this book isn't wonderful has neglected to read it!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, I didn't choose to read this on my own. It was a required reading for a class I took in 1991 called 'Chicano Studies.' I recently found it again and re-read it. Poor Tony is stuck between so many cultures and traditions: His grandmother the healer vs. Catholic religion his mother's farming family vs. his father's wandering family accepting the Mexican, Indian or American cultures. How does he find his own identity among it all?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the most amazing book I have ever read. It acutally shows the true life of Mexican Americans. Ultima reminded me of the way my grandma is, the wise one of the family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya, shows how a boy who goes through many painful experiences and can still cope with life, which makes the story very interesting. During Easter Sunday, Antonio takes in God as a regular custom and asks God many questions, ¿God! Why did Lupito die? Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas? Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good? Why do you punish Florence? Why doesn¿t he believe? Will the Golden Carp rule-?¿ (Anaya, 221). Antonio¿s curious mind needs to know the answers of what was going on and why does it happen. Antonio is young and does not have enough wisdom to know why things happen the way they are. The story tells how Antonio reacts to all his sorrow and how things enlighten him to live happier. Bless me Ultima is a book full of blessing and a book you must read.
Jared55 7 months ago
Bless Me Ultima Bless Me,Ultima written by Adolfo Anaya is a novel that takes place in the plains of New Mexico during World War ll 1940’s. In the Novel the Protagonists Antonio Marez has to make the life decision of taking his Marez name of being a Vaquero or taking his Luna blood and becoming a priest. During the time that he decides Ultima the town Curandera teaches him that everything in the land has a spirit and she teaches Antonio how to feel them. Gabriel Marez is Antonio's father he is from the Marez bloodline and wants his son to be a Vaquero. His mother Maria Luna de Marez is of the Luna’s and they are very peaceful farmers and his mother wants Antonio to become a Priest. Bless Me, Antonio's brothers are U.S servicemen that served in the War but the Marez blood runs deep within them and Antonio is the only one left in the family to decide if he wants to be a Luna or a Marez. Ultima touches on everything from witchcraft to Catholicism to Ancient native American rituals of the past. Bless Me,Ultima to me was a very well written and good novel. I personally liked it a lot because it talks about many things that people from Hispanic/Latino cultural background can relate to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. I have read it multiple times and each time I find something new to ponder!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good
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