Mister and Tomas, best friends until their late teens, both fall for Rocky, a gringa of some mystery, a girl Tomas takes for himself. But in a moment of despair, a pledge between the young men leads to murder. When Ignacia falls silent, police reports, witness statements, and caseworker interviews draw an electrifying portrait of a troubled community and of the vulnerable players in this mounting tragedy. Set in a terrain that becomes a character in its own right, The Ghost of Milagro Creek brilliantly illuminates this hidden corner of American society.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-05-24
- Reviewer: Staff
In her second novel, Sumner (The School of Beauty and Charm) crafts a convincing, despairing portrait of Taos, N.Mex. Ignacia Vigil Romero, a tough Jicarilla Apache medicine woman raising her grandson, Mister, uses charms and spells to aid in her motherly duties and to help her neighbors. After Ignacia succumbs to a long illness, there's no one to stop Mister and his best friend Tomas, who recently had a falling out with his lover, Rocky, from fulfilling their long-held suicide pact. Tomás's gun fails to fire, however, leaving Mister alive--and a murderer. Fleeing the police, Mister seeks Rocky to try and get answers. Sumner's cast and a strong sense of Native American and Latino spirituality create a fascinating portrait of a community, wrapping issues of alcoholism, friendship, parental neglect, and conflicted identity around a multidimensional tragedy. Passages narrated by Ignacia (as a living and dead character) possess appealing energy, though some other chapters--especially involving the police investigation--limp along. Readers will be fascinated by Sumner's Taos, but may find the central drama between Mister and Rocky unsatisfying. (July)