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NAKED LADIES

"The provocative title takes its name from a type of wild flowers called Naked Ladies...But there are enough racy scenes for the reader who may judge the book by the cover alone. In the novel, Villanueva explores a variety of relationships: interracial, heterosexual, homosexual. She approaches each with sensitivity and passion....One of the most inspiring elements of this novel is the wonderful portrayal of strong women. There is Katie, who wins the struggle for her purse, but loses a harrowing battle against breast cancer. There is Jade, an Asian-American teacher who must deal with harassment by a couple of lowlifes. And there is Alta, always struggling to improve her situation and to be there for her friends....Despite the teen-age pregnancy that forced her to marry Hugh, Alta goes back to school part time and ultimately gets her master's degree. She becomes a counselor and falls in love with a colleague, Michael, an African-American man.... Michael is struggling with a history of racism and rage, but together he and Alta discover that, through love, they can move past the boundaries of ignorance and prejudice. Michael and Alta learn that although you cannot change the world, you can change the way you live in the world. And sometimes that is the most courageous act of all."

--Veronica Chambers, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1994.