This is a story about believing in miracles. The message is everything in life is an illusion; the truth is what we believe with the power of conviction. We make our own miracles. Choose your stories and believe in them with all your heart, and all your soul – your entire being, and they will be your truth.
Jamilet is marked from birth. Her face radiates beauty, with a deeply entrenched sadness at its core. On her back, from shoulder all the way to her knees. “A hideous swirl of blood and disfigurement that few had ever seen . . . it was beyond description, and they were unable to sleep for days after seeing it.” She grows up in rural Mexico, isolated and hated by the villagers who fear her mark.
Fear is what motivates so many of the characters in this novel. But Jamilet believes the world is full of miracles and we each have to find the ones that belong to us. As a young woman, upon the death of her mother, Jamilet illegally crosses the border to America to pursue the miracle of medical salvation from the mark. She believes she can save the money and find the medical expertise to free her. The harrowing description of her flight north is compelling. In Los Angeles, she moves in with her aunt who had fled to America years before.
Jamilet’s path crosses with Senor Peregrino, and a friendship slowly begins. In his youth in Spain, he traveled the camino on foot on a pilgrimage to Santiago to find himself and discover his life. He tells his story to her, and his story begins to parallel Jamilet’s. She is learning about the power of conviction and the illusion of beauty. In each character’s story, you think you know what’s at the end of the road, but the road is not predictable.
Peregrino’s story includes his friend Tomas, Rosa and Jenny. The pilgrimage they share is of the walk, the heart, and the intellect. The story reveals innocent secrets between people, which shape the rest of their lives. They are tested in endurance, faith, loyalty, and truth.
The author writes these character interactions so realistically. In an interview she notes that she’s been practicing as a psychotherapist and social worker with individuals and families from Mexico, and Central and South America for more than 20 years. She speaks passionately about how gratifying she finds the work, and it’s the most compelling inspiration she could hope for as a writer.
Cecilia Samartin is a first generation Cuban American. Her family background is how she relates in many ways to people who’ve left their countries regardless of which country they may be from. And yes, as inspiration she walked the Camino de Santiago.
Thereby hangs a tale. . . .
– By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. She’s enjoyed living in Edmonds for over 20 years. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.