Author: T. Lloyd Winetsky
Publisher: Booklocker, Inc.
Release Date: March 31, 2011
Paperback, 300 pages
ISBN 10: 1609107470
ISBN 13: 9781609107475
The Book Depository / Amazon
In his latest novel, MARIA JUANA'S GIFT, T. Lloyd Winetsky explores the frustration and heartbreak of preventable human medical error. Set during America's Bicentennial, it is the story of a young teaching couple fighting for the survival of their infant daughter born in a hospital on the Arizona-Mexico border. The novel's theme approaches the core of inhumanity but also celebrates a "gift" the couple will treasure for the rest of their lives.
As an advocate for social justice, the premise of this novel hooked me. We have a young couple living in a poor, barren city on the border of Arizona and Mexico during the 1970's who are dedicated to helping immigrant workers and their children.
At the beginning of the book, they are in the hospital with their newborn daughter Emma, and Jake is frantic to get the doctor to pay attention to the fact that something is wrong with her. Maria Juana, who seems to be a nurse's aide at the small hospital, confirms the couple's fear that something is wrong with the baby. Her "gift" is her affinity with the children under her care.
There is a shift back to how Jake and Tina met, married, and ended up in a forsaken outpost. We meet a lot of the neighbors and politicians and read of how migrant workers are scorned, including an incident that ends in the deportation of the parents of one of Jake's students. Many children are mistakenly pigeonholed into special education classes in spite of their intelligence.
As Jake fights to get someone .. anyone ... to pay attention to his pleas for help for his daughter, the reader feels the frustration of a desperate father stuck in a no-man's land where politics seems more important than the Hippocratic oath.
Although the premise and the story is intriguing, I felt that the execution was flawed in many ways. The beginning is rather confusing, and there are many editing errors, i.e. "taught" rather than "taut", "imbedded" rather than "embedded", and lots of unnecessary italics. The romance between Jake and Tina feels rushed and the inclusion of quite a bit of minutiae bogs the reader down here and there. To be fair, the other reviews I've read have been quite a bit more complimentary, so I emphasize that this is my own opinion.
In spite of this, the author tells a convincing story that made this reader curious and kept me reading.
Writing: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 2.5 out of 5 starsReading Immersion: 2 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 2.6 out of 5 stars
BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.
BUY IT: At Amazon, The Book Depository and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.
Elaine from PR by the Book was kind enough to offer one of my readers from the US/CAN a chance to win a copy for themselves!
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Eligibility: US/CAN through 12/20/2011
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from PR by the Book to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.