Jesusita Gonzalez is a Mexican immigrant worker. Having to raise four children in meager environs, coupled with limited funds, Jesusita is short-tempered and quick to thrash her childrenespecially Paulina, who is incessantly disobedient. Concurrently, four other individuals are dealing with their own life issues. Angie Herrera gets involved in the sex trade at an early age. Osvaldo Montes, who is disturbed by the dichotomy between the rich and poor in his area, absconds from his mogul father to a seminary. And Felix and Ralph Bocanegra, who are abandoned by their mother, are split up in foster care because of Felix’s mental disabilities. The group of four may seem irrelevant, yet each will play a significant role in Jesusita’s life that will greatly affect her in ways never imagined.
Ronald L. Ruiz has produced a dystopian plot that reflects more fact than fiction. Set during the 1940s and 1950s, Ruiz’s fifth novel is designed as split third-person narratives. Portraying the complexities of migrant life post WWII, Ruiz throws readers off a bit when he shifts over to his cast and places supposed prominence on their accounts instead Jesusita, his featured character. That said, Ruiz’s character building approach and eventual connection to Jesusita is a unique way of keeping his story vibrant and flowing. A balanced interlacing of frankness and obscurity, Ruiz’s text deftly captures not only the harsh realities of lives wrought by impoverished circumstances, tension from unfair laws, societal stereotyping, but also the biting results of pure choice. For instances, Ruiz does not mince words as he describes the licentiousness and lust in Angie’s world, while Jesusita’s thought processes and dialogue are replete with evasiveness. Although mere examples, these give just a flavor to the depth of Ruiz’s complex character development.
There is no doubt that Ruiz’s story is dark and, at points, downright depressing. Regardless, he draws his plot to a close with an air of poetic justice, while, at the same time, leaving his readers to wonder what the future holds for his characters. Jesusita is an unforgettable page-turner!