Mariposa, by Candis C. Coffee
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.
Welcome to today’s tour stop on Candis C. Coffee‘s blog tour!
Mariposa, Coffee’s first novel, follows Annarose back and forth through time as she attempts to find herself. Because of the non-linear structure of the book, the reader knows the ending at the beginning and follows Annarose to see how she arrived there.
Texas – Annarose is an unsure but adventurous and spiritual child. She grows up in San Angelo, Texas in a poor, uneducated, and racist family in the 1920s. When she is thirteen, her family decides that she is spending too much time with a Mexican boy, Ismael, and she is sent to live with her newly married sister in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles – Feeling exiled, Annarose dams up her emotions, loses her spirituality, and survives her teenage years. Entering adulthood, she struggles to find a vocation and her own spirituality – that feeling she had as a child with Ismael. Having lived out her L.A. life, Annarose moves to Mexico in search of herself and her childhood.
Mexico – In Mexico, she falls in with and is guided by an artistic crowd – Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Crisanto. She feels more sure of herself and begins a relationship with Crisanto.
Texas – Annarose arrives back at home as an adult, ready for the birth of her child and of her own life.
I enjoyed this book. It took me a while to get into the plot and adjust to the jumps back in forth in time, but once it hit Annarose’s childhood romance with Ismael, I was in. I thought the storyline with Ismael was the strongest (and unfortunately the shortest) part of the book. I liked the butterfly metaphor that occurred throughout and the theme of leaving and then coming home as part of the maturing process. The author’s research both on the 1920s-30s and the historical characters was obviously thorough, and the character of Frida Kahlo was an excellent touch. I loved the character of Estelle and wished that she had a bigger part to play.
While I enjoyed the book, it just didn’t completely come together for me. There were a lot of mystical and spiritual elements in the book that didn’t work for me. On the hand, there were explicit and random sexual elements that didn’t always work for me. Also, I struggled (as I think the author did) with the voices of the characters. Sometimes Annarose’s family spoke in dialect and other times they didn’t. Sometimes the author would phonetically transcribe the dialect and other times she didn’t. The Mexican characters sounded exactly the same as the American characters. The settings, too, were often indistinguishable. And, most troubling, I just didn’t connect with Annarose as a character. I liked her but in an impersonal way.
Still, I think this book is worth the read and is a promising debut. Thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me this book.
Mariposa, by Candis C. Coffee [rating:3]