Accomplished poet Palacio seamlessly transitions to fiction in her debut novel about identity, stereotypes, and prejudice in a Phoenix suburb. Isola leaves her San Francisco home and university community to claim the house in Chandler, Ariz., she inherited after her mother's death. Long estranged, Isola is unfamiliar with her mother's life, except for a monthly postcard of a blooming ocotillo cactus that proclaimed dreams came true in Chandler. Isola is startled to find a man, Cruz, asleep in the kitchen, whom she learns he knew her mother well and was one of many undocumented immigrants her mother (as a part of her work with Rescate Angeles) had helped cross the border, learn English, and find work. Additional surprises await Isola when new visitors arrive, slowly revealing the mother she never really knew. Polacio's poet's eye reveals a vibrantly painted desert culture of fragile beauty and uncompromising harshness. (July)
Set in Chandler, Arizona, during the city’s infamous 1997 migrant sweeps, Ocotillo Dreams is no run-of-the-mill border tale. In her captivating first novel, Melinda Palacio skillfully weaves a story of politics, intrigue, love, and trust. Isola, a young woman who inherits her mother’s Chandler home, relocates from California only to find that her mother had lived a secret life helping undocumented immigrants. Isola must confront her own confusion and sense of loyalty in a strange and hostile environment. As she gets to know her mother from clues left behind, she grapples with questions of identity and belonging that eventually lead her to explore her life's meaning and to reconnect with her roots.
“A must read for those who seek the heart’s truth on both sides of the border.” —Stella Pope Duarte, author of If I Die in Juárez and Fragile Night
“Ocotillo Dreams is an evocative and powerful statement about human life and the conditions of immigrants in the United States.” —Denise Chávez, novelist and director of the Border Book Festival
"Melinda Palacio is a fresh voice in fiction. Readers who love a good story as well as graceful, articulate style will not be disappointed in Ocotillo Dreams." —Leonard Tourney, author of Time's Fool
"A beautiful and powerful novel. . . . Palacio's words tie us to the earth with a thin, invisible, fragile, and needed thread—and I am grateful . . ." —Fred Arroyo, author of The Region of Lost Names