It's 1983 in Coachella Valley and Yolanda Ramírez, a lowly phlebotomist at the Palm Springs hospital, has a hunch. Gay men, hemophiliacs, and women scarred by cosmetic surgery are dying. Safe blood, like the water keeping this desert green, is a lie.
In the nearby trailer, Isabel Ochoa Dreyfus disappears into a new identity: Marina Lomas. Somewhere in Iowa her businessman husband sits in the dark, staring at his drink, promising never to hit her again, if only he can track her down.
Despite herself, Marina finds companionship at Mac and Gil's annual Casa Diva fashion show. As glamorous men stride up and down a poolside runway, Yo awakens Marina's sleeping desire.
Elsewhere in Coachella, Yo's father Crescencio, a gardener, soothes Eliana Townsend, his secret love, by coaxing life from the earth outside her window. She is dying, most likely from AIDS, but no one will tell her the truth. And through it all Crescencio's sister, Tía Josie, keeps the family steady with wisdom from the Rockford Files and her dead Cahuilla husband.
Truths surge to the surface in this community of false fronts and deep roots as readers are whisked toward the deafening conclusion of Coachella, the latest from one of Chicano literature's finest writers.
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"Death as an impetus for action, for life, drives this graceful novel."