An American teenager goes on the run through the Mexican desert, searching for a man named Jesus.
This is a strange book, and I had a hard time figuring out what to write about it. Rhonda, an American 14-year-old, experiences a series of traumatic events and runs away to Mexico. She takes the name Angel and searches for her family's Mexican gardener, Jesus. Along the way, she encounters a lively, fairly unrealistic cast of characters who help her on her journey to find Jesus, and to find herself. On the surface, this sounds like a cheesy allegory, but the reality is quite different. This tale is not a conversion story and Rhonda experiments with many different ideas of God, spirituality, sexuality, and feminism.
Rhonda experiences pain and self-loathing on her journey, and her self-destructive behavior can be painful to watch. However, the backdrop of the rich, nuanced Mexican culture and the ever-changing landscape give the book an upbeat edge. The plot moves quickly, and each character is vividly drawn. The use of religious imagery is surprisingly sophisticated and original. There is a strange sort of beauty in this story, and it's unlike anything I've read before.
This is a book that could easily offend and could just as easily change someone's life. The author does not shy away from dealing with uncomfortable subjects with a frankness that I believe would appeal to a lot of young women. Rhonda's coming-of-age is rife with the experimentation, uncertainty, and passion of a real girl, even though most of the events of her journey would never happen. That being said, I found the conclusion troubling and I'm not sure I could recommend this book to anyone too young. Still, this is a fearless novel that will keeping you thinking about it long after you finish reading.
I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the author.
What's a book that you've had mixed feelings about? Do you recommend it to people? What's your favorite coming-of-age story?