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Helena Maria Viramontes

Author of Under the Feet of Jesus

5+ Works 600 Members 7 Reviews

About the Author

Helena Maria Viramontes is a professor in the Department of English at Cornell University.

Works by Helena Maria Viramontes

Associated Works

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 1,134 copies
Growing Up Latino: Memoirs and Stories (1993) — Contributor — 130 copies
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (1996) — Contributor — 119 copies
Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings (1990) — Contributor — 72 copies
Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature (1993) — Contributor — 67 copies
The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2010) — Contributor — 58 copies


Common Knowledge



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Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes is a novel telling of Mexican immigrants living as second-class citizens in California. Ms. Viramontes is a short-story writer, and this is her first published novel.

Estrella is a young lady, about to become a woman. Her mother had a very difficult life and both of them barely make a living as farm laborers in California.

Being pushed into the margins of society, Estrella and her first love, Alejo, try to fight back. Both of them must navigate the meek existence, as well as being invisible persons to the system that welcomes them as low-wage workers.

Even though this was a short book, it wasn’t a fast read. The story revolves around immigrants working in the fields. Welcomed laborers, unwelcomed guests.

The writing is very good, there are many descriptions which, frankly, seem to be filler to the story. I, however, worked in agriculture for a bit so I’m familiar with what the author tried to write about. Frankly, she did an excellent job describing the fields and work in the industry.

Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes touches many themes including Chicano culture, consumerism, working conditions of the sub-culture, injustice, and more.

While I read much praise for the vivid descriptions, I felt that the book is most poignant when the characters are interacting. The sense of desperation they feel everyday is something that’s felt on almost every page.

The story is very insightful and sad, it’s not going to change any minds though. It took me awhile to realize that this is actually two stories, which caused some confusion when I first started the book.

This is a slow book, not much is happening especially at the beginning. When tragedy strikes, the narrative also slows down as it is very difficult, intimidating, and scary for the family to get, or even ask for, help. Whether they get that help or not is a whole entire story altogether.

If you’re in a book club, this is a perfect book for it. It’s short, with many themes, and an overabundance of opportunities for discussions which went if in tangents even in my own head.
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ZoharLaor | 5 other reviews | Jul 17, 2023 |
Focusing on the hard life of migrant workers, their children, the seemingly small things of value, and the dangers of poverty, this book makes these struggles real. And you get to practice your Spanish a little.
WiebkeK | 5 other reviews | Jan 21, 2021 |
Reads a bit like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but I found this family more interesting. Still, I'm not a huge fan of Faulkner or Faulkner-esque stories.
bobbybslax | 5 other reviews | May 16, 2020 |
This historical fiction is an engaging read for students of AP Language and Composition and Honors American Literature. The reality of the migrant struggle of a young Lationo woman and her family is clearly depicted in the novel through unforgetable characterization, twisting plot, and authentic conflict. Viramonte's language is often poetic and expresses the theme of seeking the American Dream and the crushing failure to reach those dreams. Despite the failures, there is a beautiful sense of hope and faith as the family survives arduous farm labor. This novel can be paired with Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."… (more)
sgemmell | 5 other reviews | Apr 16, 2016 |



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