Holden Caulfield meets Anne Frank in this compelling coming-of-age novel by Villanueva (Desire), spun on the premise that 12-year-old Luz is writing an epistolary diary to the Virgin Mary. Here, Luz talks about her love for her Yaqui Indian grandmother and sorrow when she died, her ignorance of her German father, her abandonment by her mother, and life in the barrio. The highlights of that year the onset of menses, her first love interest come across with unabashed honesty and delicate touches of humor. The diary characterizes the flavor of Luz's groping for identity through its conversational tone, as words are misspelled ("sewerside" for suicide), set off in parentheses, capitalized, or underlined; in these confessions, Luz often comes across sounding wiser than her adolescent age would indicate. The first part ends just before Luz's 13th birthday, but the diary is picked up again 16 years later. In the interim, Luz has gotten married and had three children. On the whole, the adult section is less satisfying than the ingenuous young one. Less violent than Villanueva's Weeping Woman, this novel is a sensitive yet street-smart portrayal of growing up female in the Hispanic community. Recommended. Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.