Monday, August 5, 2013

Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza

Synopsis: Still Water Saints chronicles a momentous year in the life of Agua Mansa, a largely Latino town beyond the fringes of Los Angeles and home to the Botánica Oshún, where people come seeking charms, herbs, and candles. Above all, they seek the guidance of Perla Portillo, the shop’s owner. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to overcome all manner of crises, large and small. There is Juan, a man coming to terms with the death of his father; Nancy, a recently married schoolteacher; Shawn, an addict looking for peace in his chaotic life; and Rosa, a teenager trying to lose weight and find herself. But when a customer with a troubled and mysterious past arrives, Perla struggles to help and must confront both her unfulfilled hopes and doubts about her place in a rapidly changing world.

My thoughts: I was looking forward to reading this book. I've had it in my TBR pile for a very long time and was happy to find the chance to finally read it. Agua Mansa and its people was vividly portrayed in the book but unfortunately I did not enjoyed it as much as I hoped.

There wasn't much of a plot. The book was told through many stories of different people who lived in Agua Mansa but concentrated mostly on the curandera (healer), Perla. Some of the stories were interesting while others were boring. It was too slow for my taste and I could not see how these stories made it a memorable year for the town as the synopsis indicated. I did liked though how each section was broken up as the year progressed and how that time was represented by a certain saint. These saints are not the catholic ones but those of the healing community. Learning about the saints made the book more bearable for me.

The characters were done well but their stories did not help with having them be unforgettable. I liked the main character Perla and enjoyed reading her chapters. Her hopes and dreams were represented well and I was able to connect with her. The other two characters who I loved to read were Azucar, the transvestite dancer, and Rodrigo, the unfortunate immigrant boy. Their endings were mysterious and I really wanted to know what happened to them. The rest of the characters I did not care much for. I found myself skipping most of their chapters.

In all, this book had great potential. I was looking forward to it but was disappointed in the end. There were a few great parts but unfortunately they weren't enough to make me like this book very much. I rate it:


  1. Hi, Vonnie!

    I don't know how I missed your review of this book, but anyway, here I am!

    This is a very honest, insightful review. I like the way you pointed out the pros and cons of the book, and am sad that the cons obviously outweighed the cons.... As you know, I recently bought this one myself, and was looking forward to reading it. Now I'm wondering if I, too, will dislike it. However, I'm going to give it a try, and, if I agree with your opinion of it, then I'll donate it either to the public library, or to Goodwill.

    1. P.S. The typo monster rears its ugly head again...I meant, "...the cons obviously outweighed the pros..." Lol.

    2. Typos could be annoying. We all do them, so no worries.

      Give Still Water Saints a chance. Who knows, you might end up enjoying it a lot more than me.

      This was book-of-the-month over at Bibliophile and a fellow member gave it a three star rating. She had the same complaints that I did but the pros stood out to her a little more than it did for me.

      I was also in a "blah" mood when I was reading the book so that could have contributed it to my feelings towards it. And like you said, if you don't like it, you can always donate it.