HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Gabriela and The Widow
Author: Jack Remick
Publisher: Coffeetown Press, 2013
Language level: 5
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Said to be a Young Adult coming of age story, but I would say for adults only
Rating: 0 stars (NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Remick, Jack. Gabriela and The Widow (originally written in 2011; published in 2013 by Coffeetown Press, P. O. Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127). I was sent a PDF file of this book to review for a blog book tour, so I began reading it. The plot concerns Gabriela, a fourteen-year-old Mixtec girl who has survived a massacre at her Mexican village of Tepenixtlahuaca in which her father was killed and is now taking her very ill mother down the mountain path to see the doctor in Jamiltepec. However, when they come to the town of Paso de la Reina on the Rio Verde, the mother dies. Gabriela then hires herself out as a servant to La Patrona, the wife of the village Headman. La Patrona is described as one who as a girl “had given herself to a priest,” then to a marijuanero who later died at the hands of the Headman in a minor war for possession of drug routes, then to the judge who found the Headman not guilty of murder “in exchange for La Patrona’s sexual favors on a bimonthly basis until he died of a stroke while shaving one morning,” and finally to the Headman.
I read the first couple of chapters until La Patrona told Gabriela that among her duties was to “wipe the sh** off my a**” and not wrinkle her nose “when I pi** in the pan,” I decided that this was not the kind of book that I wished to do a blog tour review for. According to what I have read, the rest of the book goes on to tell how at nineteen Gabriela makes a treacherous journey as an immigrant to El Norte (the North) where she meets The Widow (La Viuda) who is 92 years old and lives in a house in the desert filled with photos and coins, jewels, and a sable coat. Aware that her memory is failing but burning with desire to record the story of her life on paper, she hires Gabriela. The book description says, “Gabriela and The Widow is a story of chaos, revenge, and change: death and love, love and sex, and sex and death. Gabriela seeks revenge for the destruction of her village. The Widow craves balance for the betrayals in her life. In the end, The Widow gives Gabriela the secret of immortality.” Whatever that means.
Author Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes will be released in 2013, The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. His Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011. Some adults may enjoy reading earthy stories like Gabriela and The Widow with vulgar language and sensual descriptions, but they may have them because I personally do not. And if you are like me, you can be forewarned as to what is in the book if you come across it and wonder what it is like. It is possible that there could be some interesting information and/or beneficial lesson to be gained from reading the story. However, to be blunt, I am not one who feels a compulsion to go around scrounging in other people’s garbage cans with the hope of finding something that might be valuable.
Note: Another reviewer friend of mine made the following observation. “Even though we noted this is a coming of age story for YA readers, we do want to let parents know there is language you may not want your teens reading. The wording at times can be offensive to modest ears, but the novel wouldn’t have had the same impact without it, meaning words were used for purpose and impact and not just for shock value. Every sentence, detail, narrative, character and voice is unique and without them…the story wouldn’t be.” I’ll just let it go at that, except to say that as far as I am concerned, that kind of language is never necessary for any godly purpose.