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LUNA'S CALIFORNIA POPPIES

"Written in diary form and framed by the voices of Luna Luz Villalobos as a child and as an adult, Alma Luz Villanueva's Luna's California Poppies spans a period of nearly two decades to tell the compelling story of a woman seeking safety and strength through the power of her own writing.... As a young girl coming of age in the late 1950s, Luna is invested in her androgynous pre-adolescent body for survival. She wears her hair short and lives for her bike, cycling through and out of her San Francisco neighborhood to escape her impoverished home and her negligent mother. Luna writes: 'I HATE BEING POOR WORSE than being a girl.".... The recent death of her grandmother compels Luna to find consolation in a diary through which she talks to la Virgen de Guadalupe. La Virgen becomes Luna's new confidante, thus the entries convey a private conversation between school friends at a sleepover and not necessarily prayer as Luna confides: 'And don't forget every thing I say here is true so I'm hiding this and don't forget- DON'T TELL GOD ANY THING!!!'.... With Luna's California Poppies Villanueva continues her exploration of women surviving the tense-filled nexus where race, class and gender connect. The book is in excellent company beside her award-winning novels The Ultraviolet Sky and Naked Ladies.... For it's epistolary form and bravery of subject matter, this novel invokes Alice Walker's The Color Purple. But Luna's California Poppies earns its own place as a testament to the healing and spiritual powers of nature, friendship and language."

--Rigoberto Gonzalez, El Paso Times, January 2003.