Let Their Spirits Dance: A Novel

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9780060186371: Let Their Spirits Dance: A Novel

When a dying mother hears the voice of her son thirty years after his death in Vietnam, she recalls the promise he made in 1968 as he boarded a military plane headed overseas: that one day again she would hear his voice. But it is not until she learns about the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., that she is able to decipher Jesse's mysterious message. Alicia realizes she must journey to the wall to touch her son's name and honor his memory, and like a spark kindling a new flame, her decision inspires her warring children to join her.

Let Their Spirits Dance is the story of a family's journey across America toward reconciliation and hope. Seen through the eyes of Alicia's newly divorced schoolteacher daughter, Teresa, the story uncovers Teresa's own belief, as revealed to her by Don Florencio, ancient seer and mystic, that Jesse would one day return in a new form. Among others joining Alicia and Teresa on the trip are Jesse's ex-addict brother Paul, his flamboyant sister Priscilla, and his whiz-kid nephew Michael, whose talk of parallel universes suspends reality, connecting the living with the dead.

The cross-country trip gathers old friends of Jesse's, garners the good wishes of strangers and elicits media coverage from coast to coast. With questions about Jesse's death that were never fully explained by the military, along with a mysterious plaguing phone call received from Vietnam two years after he died, the family comes to realize that the Wall is the magnet luring them on: the answers are there.

Stella Pope Duartes stunning debut novel portrays a family struggling with the universal scars suffered by all who have been touched by death through war. With this novel, Pope Duarte connects family, friends, and an entire nation with the names on the Wall, honoring the men and women who served in Vietnam as well as those left behind who watched and waited, but never forgot.

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About the Author:

Stella Pope Duarte began her literary career in 1995 after she had a dream in which her deceased father related to her that her destiny was to become a writer. Her first collection of short stories, Fragile Night, (Bilingual Review Press, 1997) won a creative writing fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and was named a candidate for the prestigious, Pen West Fiction Award. In 2001 Ms. Duarte was awarded a second creative writing fellowship for her current novel, Let Their Spirits Dance. (HarperCollins, 2002). HarperCollins has described Duarte as a "major, new literary voice in America." Ms. Duarte’s work has won awards and honors nationwide, including a nomination for the Pushcart Prize in Literature. Let Their Spirits Dance is on the Book Sense List, and was awarded the AZ Highways Fiction Award for 2003, and nominated as a ONEBOOKAz in 2004. Ms. Duarte won the 2003 "Excellence in Latino Arts & Culture," Award, presented by Valle del Sol. In 2004, she received the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award for an excerpt from her current work in progress, The Women of Juárez., and in 2005 she was awarded the "Outstanding Alumni of the Year," by the American Association of Community Colleges. She is a highly sought-after inspirational speaker for audiences of all ages, on topics related to her work, as well as on issues related to: women’s rights, culture, diversity, leadership, education, literacy, Chicano/Latino history, writing, and storytelling. Ms. Duarte was born and raised in la Sonorita barrio in South Phoenix.

From Library Journal:

Duarte's first novel is an inspirational road book full of energetic Latinos exorcising their cultural, political, and personal demons. A fortyish schoolteacher, Teresa is failing at her marriage and is haunted by the memory of her beloved brother, Jesse, who was killed in the Vietnam War 29 years ago. One night, Teresa's mother hears Jesse's voice, which tells her to go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Then surprise, surprise she finds out that the government owes her $90,000 because it had mistakenly delivered her son's body to the wrong address. Despite poor health, Mrs. Ramirez rounds up Teresa, her other children, and friends and heads to the nation's capital by auto caravan. The press picks up on their junket and follows them through American towns large and small. As they near the memorial, the mother takes sick but not before meeting Jesse's Vietnamese wife, his son (raised in America), and his grandchild. Duarte's considerable talents shine in the entertaining travel sections, but red-flagged plot devices and an excess of cultural and historical apposition about Chicano history undermine the narrative's complexity and aesthetic enjoyment. Recommended for collections of Latino literature. Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New YorkFuentes, Carlos. Inez.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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