This collection of stories is, like Petesch's previous work, distinguished by its brilliant lyrical intensity and by characters who are stunningly alive. It is a powerful collection about impassioned cultural conflicts in present-day Spain and Mexico; it is also a book about ourselves-how we have failed to love the Earth and have squandered our resources.
In the title story, it is Justina Olivia who breaks the moral law of her village in an unforgettable love story. In \u201cSenior Coloma's Class,\u201d a mother of grown children learns to read, and learns, too, that the Tree of Knowledge bears unpredictable fruit. In a story set in Monterrey, Mexico, Dr. Melindez Gutierrez dedicates his life to the barrios of the poor, while in another story also set in Monterrey, \u201cManolo's Secret,\u201d an Indian street beggar shares her life with a young immigrant from Spain.
These remarkable characters can only add to Petesch's wide reputation not only for creating people out of pathos and courage, but also for a prose style throughout that is luminous and captivating.
Justina of Andalusia and Other Stories is well suited to American literature classes, to Women's Studies courses, Latin American Studies programs, and to American Studies programs in the United States and abroad. It would be particularly useful as a text in cross-cultural programs.