By Susan Straight
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618056149, 320pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2001
List Price: $24.00*
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In this powerful, great-hearted story, Susan Straight takes us back to the multiracial area of southern California that is, in Faulkner’s phrase, her postage stamp of soil.” As in her highly acclaimed earlier novels, she has created a world of richly imagined characters struggling to retain their dignity and humanity in an often brutal environment. Serafina is a young Mexican Indian girl desperate to leave her impoverished existence in Oaxaca. Emigrating illegally to California, adrift on her own, she becomes involved with Larry Foley, a feckless trucker and occasional speed freak. When a baby daughter, Elvia, is born, Serafina cares for her tenderly until the day she is forcibly separated from her child and deported. Elvia, who has known nothing but sheltering love, is thrust into foster care. Eventually reclaimed by her father, she shares his chaotic life until she becomes pregnant at fifteen. In a frenzy of fear and despair, she is Tlled with an overwhelming need to find her mother. Her quest leads her into the world of migrant farm labor, where bitter toil, violence, and sexual predation make clear how little has changed since the Joad family harvested the grapes of wrath. With unfailing compassion and profound emotional truth, HIGHWIRE MOON takes us into a hidden universe of love, pain, and stubborn hope. It is sure to appeal to Susan Straight’s ardent admirers almost a cult readership now and to find many new ones.