Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Every once in a while, I stumble onto a novel that unexpectedly connects with real life for me in a significant way
Well, I’ve just finished one of those novels, Midnight Cactus by Bella Pollen. A few months ago, I encountered a Bella Pollen novel called Hunting Unicorns. I’d never heard of it or the author, but from the cover flap the story sounded interesting, so I dove in. And I loved it. That novel told the story of an American journalist trying to research a story on the demise of the upper classes in Britain. It was well-written and charming and funny in a poignant sort of way.
So, based on that, I got online and put a hold on the other Bella Pollen novel my library had. And that’s how Midnight Cactus ended up in my library basket this week.
In this novel, Pollen tells the story of a woman escaping the despair of an unhappy marriage by moving to the Arizona desert. Gradually, she starts to see the complexity of border life – the Mexicans desperate to cross the border and earn money to send home, the Americans who want to keep them out. Themes of escape and hope and human suffering are explored so delicately in this book.
Timing wise, I’ve been reading this while hearing and reading so much news about the Immigration Reform bill that is heating up Congress these days. This novel puts some of the issues into a very human perspective, and I'm very glad I read it.