In The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez, Amalia Gomez thinks she sees a large silver cross in the sky. A miraculous sign, perhaps, but one the down-to-earth Amalia does not trust. Through Amalia, we take a vivid and moving tour of the "other Hollywood," populated by working-class Mexican Americans, as John Rechy blends tough realism with religious and cultural fables to take us into the life of a Chicano family in L.A. Epic in scope and vision, The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez is classic Rechy.
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I very highly recommend this book. This is my first experience with Rechy's writing but it will certainly not be my last. What a talented writer! The book is very short but extremely powerful. And he describes Los Angeles so perfectly -- not the LA that most people know, but the neighborhoods. If you've ever been in East LA or the "other" side of Hollywood, you will recognize it immediately. I did some teaching work in East LA for a while at a school of predominantly Mexican-American children, and his descriptions of the houses, the people and the atmosphere were right on the money. In the middle of the book Amalia Gómez is watching a semanal (a soap opera, so popular here and actually fun to watch if you understand Spanish) and identifying bits and pieces of the conflict being televised with events & people in her own life. At the end of the show, one of the characters notes "'O Dios, O Madre Sagrada! Is there no way out of of this nightmare, O God, O Sacred Mother?' ... 'None except ---' She gazes at heaven" 'Only a miracle can save us now! Give me a sign that you understand!" (104) And that is precisely what Amalia Gomez thinks she sees one Saturday morning, looking up into the sky. She thinks there is a silver cross in the sky, a sign sent by God, "by way of the Blessed Mother." (105) And poor Amalia could use a miracle just now. Her eldest son, Manny, died while in jail under some mysterious circumstances, her younger son Juan has been acting weird and her daughter is much too young to be dressing and acting so maturely. There are a lot of pressures facing the family as they are living in the neighborhood and the pressures of being Mexican-American. She has to face the present while remembering her own past, and on this day, everything seems to be coming down on her all at once. The book is very well written and pulls at your heartstrings. Don't miss the introduction -- it will offer some good insight into Amalia's character. I very highly recommend this one.