Abused by fate and family, Ana, the strong-willed protagonist of Limn's second novel (following In Search of Bernabe, LJ 8/93) endures a life of extremes. After her mother's early death, Ana and her younger siblings accompany their father in flight from the poverty of their Mexican sea village to East L.A. Despised and cursed by her father and betrayed by Octavio, her lover and lifelong friend, Ana first loses her son to kidnappers, then adoption, and spends two years in prison for a crime of violent passion. She also acquires strong friends and makes a strange, breathless ascent to great wealth and prestige. Yet at this summit, her father's curse returns in a series of deeply shocking events. Abrupt and disconcerting, but frequently riveting, this imagined memoir is for larger fiction and area collections.-Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
Limon's first novel, In Search of Bernabe, received a 1994 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, and her second novel should awaken the conscience and compassion that drive and haunt every reader. Alive with the ruin of historical memory and the life of testimony, The Memories of Ana Calderon is by turns a fictional first-person memoir and third-person account of a gifted woman born in Mexico in the years preceding World War II. Blamed from her earliest years for poisoning her mother's womb because her mother bore no living boys after her birth, Ana moves north with her family and Octavio, a stowaway adopted orphan. Working though brutally impoverished 18-hour days as migrant farm workers, they arrive in Los Angeles, where Ana must abandon traditional community as she works a deadening urban job, achieves corporate success, and shoots Octavio, who made her pregnant, married her sister, and stole her infant son. Ana goes to jail, and, after her release, chooses life and her country over high technology and hatred. A novel of absolute stylistic and social integrity that speaks of one victory of personal survival in the face of the cruel vagaries of history, commodity culture, and West Coast U.S. An honest and terrifyingly pertinent account of a continuing nightmare, this is a story of the hard realities that command a contemporary choice between personal freedom and familial, cultural tradition.