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The Resource In perfect light : a novel, Benjamin Alire Sáenz

In perfect light : a novel, Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Label
In perfect light : a novel
Title
In perfect light
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andrés Segovia's parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family. Years later, his family destroyed, Andrés is left to make sense of the chaos-but he is ill-equipped to make sense of his life. He begins a dark journey toward self-destruction, his talent and brilliance brought down by the weight of a burden too frightening and maddening to bear alone. The manifestation of this frustration is a singular rage that finds an outlet in a dark and seedy El Paso bar-leading him improbably to Grace Delgado. Recently confronted with her own sense of isolation and mortality, Grace is an unlikely angel, a therapist who agrees to treat Andrés after he is arrested in the United States. The two are suspicious of each other, yet they slowly arrive at a tentative working relationship that allows each of them to examine his and her own fragile and damaged past. Andrés begins to confront what lies behind his own violence, and Grace begins to understand how she has contributed to her own self-exile and isolation. What begins as an intriguing favor to a friend becomes Grace's lifeline-even as secrets surrounding the death of Andrés' parents threaten to strain the connection irreparably. With the urgent, unflinching vision of a true storyteller and the precise, arresting language of a poet, Sáenz's In Perfect Light bears witness to the cruelty of circumstance and, more than offering escape, the novel offers the possibility of salvation
Review
  • When Andres Segovia and his three siblings lose their parents in an auto accident, the oldest brother sneaks them away from their El Paso foster family to Juarez to raise them himself. But poverty leads to drugs, prostitution, and sexual abuse, and the family becomes unglued. Andres finally makes his way back to El Paso, where he meets Grace Delgado, a social worker to whom he goes for court-mandated counseling after his first arrest. Grace is a widow and cancer patient, and her empathy for Andres leads her to examine her shaky relationship with her own son, as well as her inability to relate to his wife. His characters provide rich fodder for Saenz’s unique ability to look deeply into his characters’ past to see what motivates them in the present and which of their memories are impossible to shed. A former priest and award-winning poet thoughtfully shares his meditations on multiculturalism and familial love--especially the struggle to survive its loss. -- Deborah Donovan (BookList, 06-01-2005, p1757)
  • A poet, children's book author, former priest and author of House of Forgetting , Saenz returns with the gut-wrenching drama of a Mexican-American family's dissolution. Ten-year-old Andrés Segovia sees his life ripped apart after his parents are killed in an El Paso auto accident. Older brother Mando steals Andrés and his sisters, Yolie and Ileana, away from their comfortable American foster home to a dismal life across the bridge in Juarez, Mexico, in a misguided attempt to preserve the family. The Juarez of the dispossessed is more or less lawless; it is also the favored destination of paroled American child molestors, a premise on which the story turns. Andrés, returning alone to El Paso a hardened and cynical young adult with violent tendencies, is counseled by therapist Grace Delgado, a single parent newly diagnosed with breast cancer; her son, with whom she has unresolved problems (and who is playfully named "Mister") is Andrés's age. As Grace slowly and painfully unearths the story of Andrés's tragic childhood, the two grow close, but it soon becomes clear that her life, Mister's and Andrés's have crossed before. Despite telegraphing the plot, Saenz offers beautifully nuanced characterization, and interweaves disparate needs and lives with a skillful, sensitive touch. (Aug.) --Staff (Reviewed June 27, 2005) (Publishers Weekly, vol 252, issue 26, p42)
  • Light evokes images of beauty, purity, and naïveté; it connotes a divining spirit or guide, clarity amid obfuscation, a safe haven. American Book Award–winning poet, children's author, and former priest Sáenz has manipulated this metaphor in a visceral, heartrending story of two Mexican American families whose lives are intertwined owing to a violent, random act. Personifying her name, psychologist Grace Delgado, the central protagonist, confronts tragic suffering daily; Andrés Segovia, one of her clients, experiences and dispenses pain daily. Neither is willing to reveal deep personal issues: Grace has not come to terms with her widowhood nor can she share her recent breast cancer diagnosis with her son; Andrés, meanwhile, suppresses his guilt and shame about being sexually abused as a child prostitute. Both embody light and dark, beauty and pain, compassion and masked indifference. Despite the despair and unfairness meted out in life, Grace and Andrés manage to wrest a sense of dignity and renewal from seemingly hopeless circumstances. Recommended for all fiction collections, particularly libraries serving a Hispanic community.—Sofia A. Tangalos, SUNY Buffalo --Sofia A. Tangalos (Reviewed September 1, 2005) (Library Journal, vol 130, issue 14, p134)
  • Poignant tale of a Mexican American community in El Paso facing the legacy of child prostitution.Poet and novelist Sáenz (The House of Forgetting, 1997) is well attuned to the plight of these very real-seeming characters: a young Mexican man, AndrÉs Segovia, coming to terms with having been sexually abused as a boy, is arrested in a drunken brawl and turns to the gringo pro-bono lawyer, Dave, who has gotten him out of scrapes before. When the man AndrÉs has beat up dies—a sex offender out on parole whom AndrÉs remembers raping him at age 12—Dave hands his case over to a kind of miracle-working lawyer of the underdog, Grace Delgado, a widow who has plenty of troubles of her own. At 50, she has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, although she eschews any treatment; her grown son, Mister, has married a woman Grace doesn't like, and the two inform her they plan to adopt the child of severely dysfunctional parents, further straining relations among them all. As Grace works patiently with AndrÉs, his horrific story unravels: orphaned when his parents were killed in a car accident, he and his siblings tried to make a self-sufficient life for themselves, until his beloved brother, Mando, ran afoul of the law and the younger children became prey to criminals who robbed them of their youth. In brisk, short, stream-of-consciousness chapters, Sáenz keeps these several strains of the story simmering: Dave struggles with his guilty conscious while Grace, confronting her own crisis of mortality, attains a kind of religious redemption in helping AndrÉs, who in turn needs to find a purpose to live. Mister's attempts at adoption of the troubled toddler convulses the plot tragically, although Sáenz saves the mess from turning into a bloodbath by carefully delineating his characters.A vivid story about a community of scarred, deeply human souls within a callous, indifferent America. (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
137764
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
Dewey number
811/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Mexican Americans
  • Mexican Americans
  • El Paso (Tex.)
  • Texas
Label
In perfect light : a novel, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
509965
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
328 pages
Isbn
9780060779207
Lccn
2004051317
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780060779207
  • (OCoLC)56591951
Label
In perfect light : a novel, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
509965
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
328 pages
Isbn
9780060779207
Lccn
2004051317
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780060779207
  • (OCoLC)56591951

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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