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KPCW invites members of the Friends of the Park City and Summit County libraries to review novels and non-fiction every month.

June 2024 Book Review | 'Woman of Light'

"Woman of Light" is also this year's One Book One Community choice.
Courtesy of Park City Library
"Woman of Light" is also this year's One Book One Community choice.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s historical novel transports readers back to Depression-era Colorado and provides an intimate look at a multicultural family in the American West. Here is this month’s book review of “Woman of Light” - 2024’s One Book One Community selection.

“Woman of Light” is a tribute to author Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s ancestors who migrated from Southern Colorado to Denver during the Great Depression. She grew up hearing their stories and thought her blended ancestry was a rare occurrence in a society that often requires people to choose one identity. In writing this novel, Fajardo-Anstine has given a voice to Indigenous, Mexican, and other multicultural communities we seldom get to hear from in literature and film during this time period.

The novel follows five generations of the Lopez family beginning in the Lost Territory and ending in Denver. One timeline follows Pidre Lopez and his sharpshooting wife who run a spectacle show in an amphitheater near Animas with their two young daughters. The other follows their grandchildren Luz and Diego in Denver.

Luz, nicknamed “Little Light,” is a laundress who has the ability to read tea leaves and see visions. Her brother Diego is a snake charmer and factory worker. Abandoned by their parents, they both live with their aunt and struggle to make ends meet in a city that often views them as second-class citizens.

“Woman of Light” illuminates the racism and struggles some communities faced during this time period in the west. Close to a third of Denver’s white, U.S.-born men were part of the Ku Klux Klan at the time of the 1920 census.

As the novel jumps between timelines, we learn of the family’s successes, deep secrets, and often tragic hardships. It is a coming-of-age story about Luz and the love her family has shared throughout generations.

Look for upcoming events supporting One Book One Community throughout the summer. The program will conclude with a visit from author Kali Fajardo-Anstine on Wednesday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Park City Library.

“Woman of Light” can be found in our local libraries.