Read The Guardians by Ana Castillo Online


From American Book Award-winning author Ana Castillo comes a suspenseful, moving novel about a sensuous, smart, and fiercely independent woman. Eking out a living as a teacher’s aide in a small New Mexican border town, Tía Regina is also raising her teenage nephew, Gabo, a hardworking boy who has entered the country illegally and aspires to the priesthood. When Gabo’s fathFrom American Book Award-winning author Ana Castillo comes a suspenseful, moving novel about a sensuous, smart, and fiercely independent woman. Eking out a living as a teacher’s aide in a small New Mexican border town, Tía Regina is also raising her teenage nephew, Gabo, a hardworking boy who has entered the country illegally and aspires to the priesthood. When Gabo’s father, Rafa, disappears while crossing over from Mexico, Regina fears the worst. After several days of waiting and with an ominous phone call from a woman who may be connected to a smuggling ring, Regina and Gabo resolve to find Rafa. Help arrives in the form of Miguel, an amorous, recently divorced history teacher; Miguel’s gregarious abuelo Milton; a couple of Gabo’s gangbanger classmates; and a priest of wayward faith. Though their journey is rife with challenges and danger, it will serve as a remarkable testament to family bonds, cultural pride, and the human experiencePraise for The GuardiansNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE“An always skilled storyteller, [Castillo] grounds her writing in... humor, love, suspense and heartache–that draw the reader in.”–Chicago Sunday Sun-Times“A rollicking read, with jokes and suspense and joy rides and hearts breaking... This smart, passionate novel deserves a wide audience.” –Los Angeles Times“What drives the novel is its chorus of characters, all, in their own way, witnesses and guardian angels. In the end, Castillo’s unmistakable voice–earthy, impassioned, weaving a ‘hybrid vocabulary for a hybrid people’–is the book’s greatest revelation.”–Time Out New York“A wonderful novel... Castillo’s most important accomplishment in The Guardians is to give a unique literary voice to questions about what makes up a ‘family.’ ”–El Paso Times“A moving book that is both intimate and epic in its narrative.” –Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love From the Trade Paperback edition....

Title : The Guardians
Author :
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ISBN : 9781400065004
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Guardians Reviews

  • Kate
    2019-02-02 20:44

    I'm teaching Castillo in one of my classes. She's coming to campus to speak, and she'll also come to my class to speak to my students. We also read a collection of her poems (I Ask the Impossible) and a story collection (Loverboys). She fills all of her work with strong, quirky, flawed characters. She explores sexuality, identity, relationships in surprisingly fun, funny and heart-wrenching ways.If you'd like to know what life on the border is like for many people, read this book. The only flaw, and it's such a problem that I almost gave this book 3 stars instead of 4, is the ending. It's rushed. The climax is summarized instead of experienced. However, upon reflection, I thought so many other aspects of the book are so excellent that I bumped it up to a 4.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-27 00:51

    The site description of this book was quite detailed, so I won't attempt to get into the narrative in this review, except to say that Castillo clearly has well-honed story-telling gifts.The characters were well-developed, and their "voices" were unique and authentic. The author sprinkled Spanish words mixed with English in the characters' dialogue, and while this was occasionally annoying in the same way that it takes concentration and effort to understand a person with a heavy foreign accent on the phone, it did ring true.I disagree with one reviewer's use of the word "rollicking" to describe this story. That, to me, would imply something fast and fun, but I felt this story was too dark to fit that description. I came away feeling as though I had a much more accurate and informed picture of what life is like for Hispanics who live along the New Mexico/Mexico border, and for the challenges they face, both emotionally and economically. Whether they are legal or illegal, they are often the victims of the Mexican drug cartels and those who get paid to help people cross the border (but who may subject them to inhumane conditions or leave them to die instead) as well as victims of prejudice and xenophobia on the U. S. side. The heartache of families divided between two countries was well conveyed.

  • Kamala
    2019-01-26 19:59

    I've taught this and other of Ana Castillo's texts and am currently preparing a paper in which the book figures prominantly. One major draw is the way The Guardians (and most of Ana's work) lives in the (borderlands) reality in which the story is set. The perspective, in this case dispersed between four main characters, is from within lived experience. To me, the Spanish is integral to that aspect of the text, and I love that about it. I appreciate codeswitching because,even if there is a distancing for those without the vocabulary, it makes the text, and our relationship to it, more honest, imo. It allows me to realize I don't know everything about what I am reading. It gives me some humility and perspective. It does the necessary work of suspending and questioning my "belief."

  • David
    2019-02-17 22:02

    This is contemporary literary fiction. I'm generally more of a genre reader. I'm pleased to say that this book actually works as entertainment. It took me a couple chapters to mesh with Castillo's writing style, but once I started to hear the dialog in my head with a heavy accent, it flowed just fine.About halfway through the book, I was certain that the book was going to be one huge diatribe along the really stereotypical bleeding-heart doom path I expect from contemporary literary fiction. But I was wrong. Castillo might share the opinions of some of these characters. But it's not blatantly obvious. These characters are very real, flawed people with their own opinions - some strong, some not. In particular, there were several moments where characters acted hypocritically. This assured me that Castillo was not preaching through the mouths of fictional entities. Hooray!Some of this book may stick with me. It was unusual enough and I don't read a lot of things like it. Only time will tell if it continues to speak to me.

  • Angela
    2019-01-28 22:57

    Certainly compelling, but the narrative style (all first person, from the POV of numerous characters) was a bit jarring. It also forced me to rack my brain and even pick up a Spanish dictionary at one point, since I wanted to be absolutely certain that I was reading the frequently interspersed Spanish words correctly. That, more than anything, was the reason I gave this three stars. While I appreciate what the author was trying to do, the assumption that readers would be able to skim over unknown words was a little much. There were a number of times where meaning wasn't entirely clear through context, and that, I think, detracted quite a bit from the book.

  • J.M. Evans
    2019-02-11 19:00

    This is a wonderful read; tender, funny, dead-on, sharp. It's all the things that make a book its own separate and valid world, a place that you fall into, where you meet new people that you will love and hate. Each time that I read this novel, I cry and scream, and in my mind, I rewrite the characters' fates over and over again. "Ay, mi muchacho!" And Regina and I light a candle for the soul departed, and wish that it could be different, and in the aftermath of knowing that nothing can be changed that has already passed, we struggle to make a difference for those who remain. My most recent re-read was June 25, 2015.

  • Dana Stabenow
    2019-01-30 18:04

    The story of three generations of Mexican Americans living in a New Mexican border town rife with drugs and violence and anti-immigration fervor. This novel has a great voice, which makes me forgive the author's determination to hit every single button reflected in every single one of today's headlines. Regina in particular is a terrific character--this is a woman who never gives up. I could wish the entire novel had been hers alone to tell.

  • Alison
    2019-02-19 20:43

    This is a heartbreaking account of Mexican familes (both illegal immigrants and third generation) who live in a border town. I loved the characters in this book although something about the writing was not compelling.

  • Aimee
    2019-02-22 20:48

    This is one of those books that I would not otherwise have read if it were not for my book club. It is different from anything that I have read before because it is from the perspective of the Hispanic community and deals with the horrors they face on a daily basis.

  • Bonnie
    2019-02-13 02:01

    Thanks to my friend Lynette for highly recommending this book.

  • Trish
    2019-02-06 20:01

    It left me wanting more. I wanted to follow these characters for the rest of their lives.

  • Libraryscat
    2019-01-27 21:09

    In this compelling exploration of illegal immigration and life on the Mexican-American border, Ann Castillo introduces the reader to four characters and their musings on their life and culture. The story, which develops in rather brief sections narrated alternately by each character, revolves around one family's search for a brother and father. The author brings the reader into this world of chaos and mistrust through the language and descriptions of everyday life on the border.[return][return]Regina, a legal immigrant through marriage to an American soldier who died before consummating the marriage, tried desperately to leave behind the migrant life of many illegal immigrants. Her brother Rafa could not as he needed the work to support his son and new wife. Regina has the strongest voice in the book and the sporadic use of Spanish words mid-sentence illustrate how she is straddling two cultures, both perhaps broken. Regina is devoted to her family and seems to have lost herself in the difficulties of her life. Through her search for her missing brother, she begins to find herself again.[return][return]Regina takes in her nephew Gabo and helps him to stay in school and out of the gangs that roam the border stealing from their own people and anyone else. It is when talking about Gabo that Regina utters my favorite line in the book: She says, "One day I am going to take him to Washington, DC. To see where the Devil makes his deals." These deals with the Devil continue to make poverty and desperation a constant in the lives of many legal and illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, the people who are trying to live a good and simple life in the border towns are beset with more than one devil. The scavengers, or coyotes, who traffic in human desperation have become another Devil to deal with and one which perhaps would exist with or without the Devil's deals in Washington.[return][return]Gabo lost his mother, who was murdered when trying to cross the border, when he was young and lives with the fear that he has also lost his father. He is consumed with love for the Lord and hopes to become a Catholic priest. He is also consumed with finding his father and often finds himself pulled between the two. [return][return]Regina seeks assistance in finding her brother, bringing in the other two main characters - Miguel and el abuelo Milton, who is Miguel's grandfather. These two men play a role in the final resolution of the story and serve to remind the reader of the importance of heros and political activism. While the resolution of the story is rather surprising, I think it shows the anguish of the characters and hopefulness in the face of extreme adversity. [return][return]I was in a unique position to like this book because I speak Spanish rather fluently, am Catholic, and share the author's political leanings about "our" immigration problem. I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in this culture or societal problem - or maybe just for an interesting and thought provoking read.[return][return]Thanks for allowing me to participate in this program.[return]LibraryCat

  • Leticia
    2019-01-31 18:45

    The Guardians is a novel narrated in four parts, centering around life on the New Mexican border with Mexico. Regina, the central narrator, is responsible for her nephew Gabriel after his father Rafa leaves him with her to cross the border back to Mexico. Upon returning to cross back over, Rafa disappears, throwing Regina and Gabriel's lives into chaos. To find him, they seek the help of friends and enemies alike and are tested beyond the limitation of their values to try and find him. Castillo takes the US/Mexican border, that treacherous place where people are daily ripped from the world and their family and explores the fear that these families face at the hands of drug traffickers, coyotes and police. Through the tail of anguish, in which each narrator is affected by the border taking something from him or her, Castillo indicts a government and a society that permits and even participates in the violence that occurs there. She entrusts the reader with four very different narrators whose voices pull one in and forces them to care. Each character gives a different perspective on being Mexican in the US and their struggles with identity, with family and with love, especially self love, is gripping. I became emotionally invested in these characters because I could relate to them culturally and to the protectiveness that they feel for their family and for one another. When I reached the ending, I was unsurprised, and still I cried for Regina and her loss. The only reason that I did not give this book five stars is that the introspection of some of the characters sometimes overtook the storyline and the very end felt like too much tragedy and all a little too rushed. However, the novel is fantastic, and I encourage more people to read it. I noticed that many people marked down the stars given on their reviews because of the amount of Chicano Spanish in the book (there was a lot). Many of those words could not be translated with a Spanish dictionary anyway. I know that it is a novel and that many different people want to enjoy it. Perhaps there is too much colloquial Spanish for the average reader. To this I say, perhaps the book was written with Chicanos/as in mind, and that is why this book is so important.

  • Betty-Anne
    2019-01-30 21:52

    Reading Ana Castillo’s The Guardians turned out to be a difficult experience. She weaves four different Mexican-American voices around each other and attempts to bring cohesion to her story. The four – Regina, a woman as determined to hold on to her past as she is to see her nephew have a future; Gabo, a sixteen year old boy fighting to cope with a lifetime of loss believing his only choices are the church or the gangs; Miguel, a disillusioned schoolteacher with a somewhat atypical divorce situation and Miguel’s grandfather Milton, mostly deaf and half-blind, caught up in the memories of a revolutionary past – are united by the disappearance of Regina’s brother (and Gabo’s father) Rafa, who has made the crossing between Mexico and the United States several times, but failed to return to the United States this last time.The main difficulty with this book was the very distracting language issue. Ana Castillo allows all her characters to speak in a hybrid of English and Spanish, which may make sense to persons with a background in Spanish, but kept breaking me out of the flow of the story to the point where I began skipping over words by the time I got to the middle of the book. I can appreciate the use of the hybrid language as a literary device, but just don’t think the author achieved her intention here.Additionally, while her characters are quite distinct, their voices definitely are not. At times it was difficult to distinguish who was speaking when moving from one perspective to another. Sometimes I found myself in the middle of a chapter before I realized the character had changed.On the whole The Guardians was a moving and beautiful story that at times would leap out of the language issue with a startling clarity, but which mostly got lost. This was the first of Ana Castillo’s books that I have read, and despite the difficulties I had with it, I would probably try another of her books to see if I could find more of her storytelling ability.

  • Laura
    2019-01-26 21:59

    I love Castillo's style. There's something so easy about it and yet compelling. In this book, she tells the story of life on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez through the voices of four different characters. In doing so, Castillo is able to develop her characters and their stories more deeply, particularly that of Regina. Regina is a powerhouse of a woman with an open and kind soul. Miguel, her love interest, at one point describes her as the kind of woman "who probably hustles steers in her free time". That makes her sound tough as nails, and she is but not without losing her vulnerability and her openness to both love and loss.Some of the reviews of this book were really bothered by the amount of code-switching in the book. I had no problem with it, and I think it captures perfectly a third culture that exists where two cultures come together. Instead of a line, it's a blurry and beautiful mix.... and it is its own language. One of my favorite words in the book is something that Regina and her nephew, Gabriel, invent themselves through word play: "cabezahead". It's completely redundant, of course, but it lends so much more to the concept of "head" than either "cabeza" or "head" alone could.I also really enjoyed how contemporary this novel is and how it draws in recent elections, immigration policy, current drug trafficking activity, and the current social scene into the book. I feel like there are a lot of books out there about crossing the border, and a lot of them are very good, but this story evokes the essence of living on the border all the time. Ay.... as I write this, I'm still feeling the punch of the ending. It was completely unexpected for me, and I feel like it will take me a few days to grapple with it. This is a book that will be in my mind for a long time.

  • Reni
    2019-01-24 19:55

    Saints and martyrs come together in this novel, looking for loved ones gone missing in their attempt to cross over into the United States and what they hoped could mean a better life. Re-reading this book in 2015 made it appear oddly topical even to me as a European. The daily tragedies occuring at the US-Mexican border very rarely make it into the evening news over here, but illegal immigration and people being forced to flee their economically depressed homes in search of any kind of future have shook the world for years. Looking at the causes for these movements there is little hope of them being quelled in the near future. In Castillo's novel the measures employed to protect the most vulnerable of society as they undertake this dangerous journey from exploitation - such as human trafficking and organ harvesting - fall short. It's rather dishearting to realise that even almost a decade after the publishing of this novel little has changed, not even the rhetorics of hate that advocate isolation rather than lasting solutions. I'm rating this a three star novel, because despite the relatively small page count the book has it's lengths, especially around the middle third. However, what I did find engaging is that Castillo manages to give each of her narrators a distinct voice. Even though all four point-of-view characters speak in first person, they're immediately distinguishable from each other. Apart from that the parts of the novel that don't suffer from more or less long-winded setups are extremely emotionally engaging and gripping, including the fast-paced finale. So I guess this is actually more of an 3.5/almost 4 star book. The only thing that keeps me from awarding the extra star is the feeling that I've no desire to read this book a third time anytime soon.

  • Irisheyz77
    2019-02-12 01:46

    I had never read anything by Castillo when I picked up this book but based on the back of the book I thought that this would be a beautiful tale of love, loss and the coming together of various characters. After reading this story I wonder if the person who wrote up the blurb on the back even read the story. The main part of this short novel was to be about the search for the brother of one the main characters, Regina. Yet her brother is rarely mentioned and there never seems to be much in the way of searching for him.Instead you get a story told by four people - Regina, her nephew Gabo, her friend Miguel and Miguel's grandfather - and they all seem to be competing with each other to tell a different story. There is no real journey in this story. The characters are all pretty forgettable and who all seem to be hiding from life. Regina hides behind her widow status , Gabo buries himself in religion, and Miguel preaches about all the injustices in the world & can't seem to be bothered with the problems around him. Miguel's grandfather just seems to be an afterthought to the whole story telling random tales of the past and never really contributing to the main story. Although there really wasn't a central main story.All the main characters had their own story and yet their stories never flowed together. It was often hard to care about what was going on in their lives because they never seemed to care about living. Perhaps the author tried to hard to touch on all the issues that some Mexican-Americans have to deal with that she lost focus. And instead of writing a beautiful tale that highlighted those issues and let the reader come to their own conclusion she decided to beat them over the head with her beliefs.After reading The Guardians I don't think that I'll pick up another book by Ana Castillo.See my other reviews at

  • Mark Valentine
    2019-02-15 19:00

    Place makes this novel more than anything else. The texture, tones, and timbre of El Paso/Jaurez rises up as if it were its own character. The only other author who has been able to write like this in my mind is Willa Cather about the plains of Nebraska. Basically, the plot follows the Lost Father motif. Everyone is searching for Rafa, Gabo's father, yet no one can find him. Castillo's characters also have a depth. She casts them in guardian angel names (Regina, or Queen of Heaven; Miguel, or Michael; Rafa, or Raphael; Gabo, or Gabriel; and finally, Milton, or well, the man who wrote about a war in Heaven, John Milton). The war among these improbable saints and angels has no tint of being close to angelic, but the message gets across that they are still the guardians of a way of life: Hope.I was impressed by the duality of the two cultures that Castillo includes. For example, she uses the neologism, "cabezahead," in the book to signify someone who is really thinking. The combination of the two cultures into one word shows a cultural hybridization (in Boulder, Colorado, my hometown, there is Table Mesa, a street heading south). Not just a redundancy, I think it shows overlap of the Mexican and U.S. cultures. Finally, crimes against women in this book act as an undertow. They are there, but not mentioned overtly. How women bond, strengthen each other, and nourish make this a fascinating book. Conversely, men bang against walls of ambition, egoism, and vanity.I liked it because it took me someplace that I have not been to before and I feel that I am better after having travelling there with Castillo.

  • Natasha
    2019-02-17 00:46

    This is a very important, politically charged book for the 21st century. Castillo gives voice to a variety of people living in the border towns between Mexico and the US, and does not apologize for laying bare the iniquities and hardships faced by Mexicans who cross the border, whether temporarily or permanently. Many of the issues that she includes are particularly pertinent to women: the rape of female gang-members, domestic abuse, the difficulty to earn a living without relying on a husband; but also general problems such as the US supplying weapons to Mexico (statistics show that 70% of weapons recovered at crime scenes in Mexico come from America), the working conditions of Mexicans who supply cheap labour to the US, and the flawed American immigration laws that perpetrate illegal immigration, and do nothing about the horrid treatment by the "Coyotes" who are gaining financially by illegal immigrants' misery, and often lives. Castillo succeeds in portraying all of this in a down-to-earth, personal narrative kind of way. Her lead female character is complex and tough, and the relationships in her life are realistic and not idealized.I have to disagree with reviewers who state that the language was a problem in this novel. The point of using some Spanish words is because that is the reality of many many people who live in North America. In the book, some characters refer to themselves as "hybrids", and that is an authentic state of identity. If anybody finds it "difficult" to read the book because it does not ignore the subjects' first language, but rather celebrates it, then I would call that an ethnocentric approach to reading.

  • Kelly McCloskey-Romero
    2019-02-07 18:45

    I haven't read a book by Ana Castillo in years; I discovered her during a Chicana lit class almost 20 years ago, and I really liked So Far From God. This one was just ok.Delving into life in a fictional border town not too far from Juarez and the disappearances of innocent people there, this novel's strongest trait is Regina, a tough woman who struggles with senselessly losing her loved ones. I really liked her, and if she were a teacher's aide at my school, I would try to befriend her. The way that she speaks, peppering her speech with Spanish words and expressions, is familiar and fun. More importantly, Castillo paints what feels to me like an authentic cultural picture of a Chicana woman living in the Borderlands. I appreciate the book most of all for this, for the chance to hear another point of view and understand a seemingly incomprehensible current event like the murders in Juarez.As a story, though, I found The Guardians to be lacking. I didn't understand Gabo's demise. The climax and resolution of the plot were depressing and frustrating to me. Some of the political musings (especially Miguel's), while perhaps insightful and/or accurate, felt like rants and didn't contribute to the story. I wonder if I would enjoy her essays more. Certainly I respect her and am intrigued by her and what she's doing. I hope to attend a reading by her in Santa Fe next week.

  • Jen
    2019-02-17 18:05

    The Guardians by Ana Castillo is timely, considering the current illegal immigration debate. Politics aside, this book gives the reader a sobering glimpse into the other side of immigration. Ana introduces us to a colorful cast of characters who tell their stories in first person.[return][return]The narrators are Regina, her nephew Gabo, her paramour Miguel, and Miguel s grandfather, Milton. Regina s brother (Gabo s father), Rafa, goes missing after trying to cross the border. Later, Miguel s ex-wife also disappears. This novel follows the characters on their quest to find their missing loved ones. The character development is lacking, preventing the reader from feeling connected to the characters, which in turn causes the ending to be somewhat anti-climactic. [return][return]Because of all the Spanish phrases used, this book could be difficult for someone with no knowledge of the language. There are several instances when context clues cannot help the reader to figure out what is being said, and this takes away from the story a little. No one wants to have to use a Spanish/English dictionary while reading a novel. [return][return]If Ms. Castillo wanted to call attention to the plight of border crossers she could have done it much more effectively with less one-dimensional characters and better plot development. I give this book a solid three stars. It wasn t horrible, but it didn t make me feel the need to read any more of her books.

  • Michael Bennett
    2019-01-26 19:52

    I had never read any Ana Castillo, but I thought that the description of the book sounded intriguing, so I signed up for the early reviewer copy and was lucky enough to snag one. I pushed it to the front of my reading list so that I could review it quickly and stay in good stead with this excellent program (free books!). But I hesitated in writing the review because it is a hard book to review for me. I enjoyed it. It didn’t blow me away and it didn’t bore me. It is a good book, but I wouldn’t call it a great book by any means. As a Canadian I think that I have a little less familiarity with Spanish than a lot of Americans might have, and I did find her use of Spanish words and phrases distracting. I didn’t ever resort to looking them up online or anything (they are usually clear from the context), but words can have such precise meanings that a vague understanding of what she had in mind often doesn’t satisfy me. I found the characters to be nicely developed, relatively believable and consistent, and the story fairly engaging. Overall it left me with a good impression, but it isn’t a book that left me wanting more. I certainly don’t regret reading it, but there weren’t any moments where the writing struck me as overly beautiful (though it was never poorly written). I don’t think that I will seek out any other books by Ms. Castillo. All in all, it was pretty good. Which it makes it hard to review.

  • Cindy Griffin
    2019-01-27 00:50

    The Guardians by Ana Costillo is a tragic story of a Mexican American family told by the four main characters: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. The lives of these four individuals are followed and narrated by the individuals themselves. Costillo interweaves the events in her book based on the differing points of view of these characters. Each person is searching for peace within themselves as they join together in the search for Gabo s missing father. [return][return]This is certainly not a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but then neither are the lives portrayed in the book. The story tells of the trails many families suffer, particularly those families trying to establish a home in America after emigrating from Mexico. They are simply trying to find their way while facing all life throws at them.[return][return]Costillo allows the reader to become a part of the journey these four people are taking as they search for Gabo s father. This is not ahappily ever after fairy tale; this is real life for countless Mexican American families.[return][return]For those of us who are not familiar with life near the Mexican/American border, this book offers us a glimpse into those lives. Costillo shows us what many families are willing to endure as they attempt to make a better life.

  • Cindy Griffin
    2019-02-17 23:00

    The Guardians by Ana Costillo is a tragic story of a Mexican American family told by the four main characters: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. The lives of these four individuals are followed and narrated by the individuals themselves. Costillo interweaves the events in her book based on the differing points of view of these characters. Each person is searching for peace within themselves as they join together in the search for Gabo s missing father. [return][return]This is certainly not a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but then neither are the lives portrayed in the book. The story tells of the trails many families suffer, particularly those families trying to establish a home in America after emigrating from Mexico. They are simply trying to find their way while facing all life throws at them.[return][return]Costillo allows the reader to become a part of the journey these four people are taking as they search for Gabo s father. This is not ahappily ever after fairy tale; this is real life for countless Mexican American families.[return][return]For those of us who are not familiar with life near the Mexican/American border, this book offers us a glimpse into those lives. Costillo shows us what many families are willing to endure as they attempt to make a better life.

  • Djrmel
    2019-02-01 18:50

    Whenever I read a story told in the form of characters getting their own chapters to tell their versions of overlapping events, I hold that story to a higher standard. Why? Because it's an easier way to tell a story. The author doesn't have to pin down the voice they're going to use. In the case of this book, that higher standard is exceeded. A fifty-something legal immigrant from Mexico has taken custody of her illegal immigrant sixteen year old nephew. Her brother, a man who has crossed back and forth from New Mexico to Mexico so many time he no longer needs a coyote to guide him (but still must use one because the coyotes are all about job security), has gone missing. Regina does not want to give up hope that her brother will return, Gabo the nephew who already lost his mother to a cross over gone very bad, tries to use his extreme faith in God to guide him in all areas of his life, and a handful of interesting characters, not caricatures all share in the search. You won't forget what happens to these people because Castillo makes you care about them, no matter what your opinion on illegal immigrants.

  • Elaine
    2019-02-18 23:00

    This story is told from the perspective of 4 individuals living in New Mexico: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton. Regina is a widow in her 50’s. Her nephew Gabriel (Gabo) is currently living with her in order to attend school while his father, Rafa, works as a migrant worker. When Rafa mysteriously disappears during an illegal border crossing, Regina turns to a fellow co-worker, Miguel, for help. Milton, Miguel’s grandfather, takes an interest in mentoring Gabo and helping with the search for Rafa.There was much I found interesting about this story including the Mexican cultural mores and how each of these characters view them, identify with them, and are influenced by them. The only problem I had with the story was with some of the Spanish liberally sprinkled throughout the text. I usually have no problem with this technique when used to add cultural authenticity to dialog, but in this story there were just too many places where the definition of the words used were not readily apparent from the surrounding text which left the reader yearning for a Spanish/English dictionary.

  • Erin
    2019-02-17 23:50

    The Guardians is a brutal novel - brutal like a hard run or a long hike - you are challenged and you're glad you put in the effort. Her characters are flavorful and difficult. The scenery is relentless. This book makes you need to know more about "la frontera" and own your piece of what is there. As another reviewer notes, Spanish is used liberally throughout the novel, not all of it is immediately defined by context - it might be helpful to have a dictionary handy, thought it's not necessary to get something out of this work. I first read Castillo in college - The Mixquiahuala Letters appeared on the scene around the same time as Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. (At least, the same time in my reading consciousness.) Cisneros seemed to get more play than Castillo, her work (challenging and engaging though it was) was somehow softer, more palatable than Castillo's. I will seek out more by Castillo and I highly recommend this novel.

  • Alexis
    2019-02-20 23:00

    I checked out this book because it was on a list of desert-themed recommendations, and on that count it delivered. The desert is portrayed as a treacherous land, to be feared as much for the smugglers that stalk it as for the barren landscape itself. Here, the desert offers almost nothing and takes much; that reality is constantly pressing down on the book’s protagonist and her family. I’ve read very little about life on the US-Mexico border - the horrors of the border crossing, the back-breaking labor that awaits those who succeed, and the trauma that awaits those who don't - and I found the subject matter both compelling and harsh.Unfortunately, the story is told from four points of view, which didn’t work for me. The chapters narrated by Regina were the strongest; the other voices were often distracting and were at times grating. I found Regina’s simple, understated descriptions far more powerful than any of Miguel’s more politicized critiques.

  • Am
    2019-02-03 00:54

    As a fervent supporter of immigrant's rights, I appreciated the humanitarian message of the tale, and the fact that it was recounted without a heavy hand, or a pedantic hammer.Castillo has a beautiful grasp of musicality in narration. The Guardians is an engaging poem for that reason.That said, I had a hard time overcoming some of the stylistic hurdles, in particular the injection of Spanish vocab into narrations, sometimes in nearly every sentence, depending upon the narrator. My knowledge of Spanish is such that I was able to make my way through enough of the book without losing context, but there were times when I didn't understand a word, and didn't have a Spanish dictionary on hand to look it up. There is certainly a time and place to meld mother tongue and second language vocab, but I'm not sure Castillo has mastered that notion in this book.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-18 00:05

    In The Guardians, Ana Castillo insightfully portrays life in the unusual triangle where Sunland Park, NM, El Paso, TX, and Ciudad Juarez come together. The border is in so many ways an artificial construction dividing people and cultures that one could imagine would blend fluidly and happily given political, legal, and law enforcement changes. Instead, families are divided and people are dying trying to cross back and forth. Layer on top of that the appalling drug and gang violence.She accurately describes, if only in passing, very real environmental challenges facing this land of many jurisdictions, from the atrocious pollution historically emitted from the ASARCO smelter to the environmental justice issues in the colonias and the septic system issues that plague many rural areas.The characters are rich and their stories very human.