In the early- to mid-1990s, I lived in Massachusetts, outside of Lawrence, along New Hampshire’s tiny coastal strip, and worked for a Girl Scout council on the North Shore, which included Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn, Salem, Marblehead and Gloucester. I also did an internship a bit to the west, around Worcester. What I remember the […]

The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (2006) was a definite winner, at least in terms of learning about Kansas. While Becky Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas left me full of bleakness, Nancy Pickard’s Kansas gave me some hope. Not that she was all rosy about the state–there were plenty of descriptions of that bleakness. He […]

Names in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, are very important. I mean, you know when three of the four sisters are named Faith (Fe), Hope (Esperanza), and Charity (Caridad)–and their mother is Sophia (Sofi)–that their names are symbolic. Next, add in the fact that the fourth is called Crazy (La Loca)–everyone has called […]

When I was pregnant with my son and taking refresher classes in Spanish in preparation for starting my graduate degree in translation from Spanish to English, I spent 4 weeks in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain (and another 2 weeks touring Spain and Portugal with my husband). We happened to be in Santiago on the […]

So Far From God, by Ana Castillo is, on one level, a modern retelling of the story of the Christian saints Faith, Hope, and Charity–the martyred daughters of Sophia–reworked into the American southwest. On the surface it’s a tale of strong women who rise above the men who abandon them or treat them brutally–much as […]