Fourteen-year-old Jerry Luna had
been mute every since her mother's disappearance from a campground
several years ago. Her mother's lifestyle was such that anything
could have happened. Her mother hung out with potheads and drug
dealers and dragged Jerry from one rock concert to the next. When
the state troopers came to search for her mother, Jerry was
wandering around the edge of the campground and wouldn't speak.
Jerry knew what her mother was wearing, but she couldn't tell them.
She had buried her words so deeply this time that they wouldn't come
Jerry ended up in several Catholic
Charities homes, but a relative was eventually found, her
great-great-aunt Constanza de Luna, and Jerry was sent to live with
her. Even though Constanza was 90 years old, she still had a
thriving bakery business in Albuquerque, N.M., and still made her
own deliveries. She lived in the country in an old adobe-style
house. Her yard was full of ovens called "hornos," used to bake the
bread. Constanza was a practicing Catholic, but Jerry noticed that
she had some different ideas about food, cleanliness and lighting
candles on Friday evening. Constanza wasn't aware of the origin of
these ideas but had always practiced them.
Jerry started school within a few
days of moving to her aunt's. Everyone at the schools seemed to know
about her, and they were very gracious and accepting. The first day
she met a friend named Sinta Garcia. Sinta was kind and sweet and
Jerry felt comfortable with her. This is one part of the story that
doesn't ring true.
One day while Jerry was exploring her aunt's
house, she went down into the basement and discovered an old trunk. When
she opened the truck very strange things began to happen. She picked up a
piece of old lace with a brown stain that she realized was a bloodstain.
She heard voices in her head and realized the voices were telling her the
story of her ancestors. Each article she touched in the trunk gave her
more information about her family's often tragic past.
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Her ancestors' story began to unfold
in Seville, Spain, in June of 1391 in the "House of the Lace Maker"
at the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition. Jerry learned that her
ancestors were Jewish and were first burned at the stake in Seville,
leaving one small daughter, Miriam, as a survivor. Even though the
stories were disturbing, she kept going to the trunk to learn more.
The voices traced the history and forced migration of the family,
ending in New Mexico in 1912. Jerry learned that she was a
descendant of Spanish Jews who were burned or forcibly converted to
Catholicism over a time span of approximately 500 years.
Eventually, with the kindness and
patience of her aunt and her friend Sinta, Jerry began to speak
again and interact socially with people. She finally shared the
information from the trunk with Constanza, which helped her
understand many things about herself and her family.
This story combines time travel and
coming of age in a well-written but disturbing story. As the
narrative goes back and forth between present day and the past, the
family relationships can be a little confusing, but the extensive
family tree in the back is very helpful. The "Author's Note" at the
end offers more information about the devastating extent and horror
of the Inquisition. Due to the content, this book is recommended for
young adults in grade seven and up.
[Linda Harmon, Lincoln Public