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The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez by John…
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The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez

by John Rechy

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One hot day in Los Angeles, Amalia Gómez look to the sky and sees a large, silver cross. Or did she? After all, such miracles only happen to a chosen few, but maybe....

Over the course of the day, Amalia wanders through Hollywood, reflecting on the life she's lead, raising three children while working menial jobs and struggling against the threat of gangas dragging her children into a harder life, especially after losing her beloved son Manny to them. The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gómez offers a gritty look at the life of a family in the heart of Los Angeles as seen through eyes of Amalia. Mixed in with the tourists, the bullying policeman threatening deportation or beating up seeming innocents, and the constant presence of gangs, she finds ways to keep her spirits up: discussing the latest novela with her friend Milagros or a single rose blossoming from a bush thought to be dried up.

The story is her journey to re-discover the belief in herself that slowly seems to be deserting her. Amalia feels like a real person, the kind you see walking down the street every day, and her story is interesting and ultimately uplifting (with an ending that I wasn't expecting). It's a great read, and I highly recommend it. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Jan 16, 2014 |
The title tells us already that this rather short novel takes place on a single day in the life of Amalia Gomez. Through out this day she remembers details of her life and we get her and her past better to know. As a twice divorced woman, with three kids, of which her eldest is already dead, from two different men and living with a long term boyfriend her life isn't as exemplary as it should be considering her highly religious attitude. Somehow she has managed to get along so far, even when she moved from one crisis to another and her own mother constantly criticised her.
But on this miraculous, when everything starts to crumble around her, she changes considerably and becomes active for the first time in her life.

Some themes which are touched within this novel:
Mexican subculture, problem of immigration, conflict of generations, dealing with the coming out of a kid, dealing with sexual abuse, emancipation from the church... and some more.

Well, now my personal opinion (o:
at some point I got annoyed because of Amalia's constant need of approval. She wants God to approve her behaviour, she wants the men to be attracted to her and thus approve her outward appearance, she wants the approval of her kids... She simply depends on the reactions of others, she seldom showed any initiative. God knows, the ending of the novel was necessary, otherwise it hadn't been bearable for me. Can't say more, you are supposed to read it yourself, if you're interested (o:.
But all together it is a pretty precise depiction of the life of a Mexican American woman, though some may argue it is a little to heavy with clichés. Still it wasn't that hard to read. But I found it difficult to enjoy while that woman had to go through so much.

As far as the style is concerned, it was rather interesting. You get a lot of introspection, the narrator gives full account of Amalia's thoughts at times, just as streams of consciousness, pieces of her thoughts, whenever she hesitates...
The text is also interspersed with Spanish vocabulary, well, some sentences and single words every now and then, due to the Mexican heritage of the protagonist. ( )
1 vote mi-chan | Jul 4, 2007 |
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 Latino 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 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. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | May 12, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802138470, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -0400)

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