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Paperback Under the Feet of Jesus Book

ISBN: 0452273870

ISBN13: 9780452273870

Under the Feet of Jesus

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Book Overview

A moving and powerful novel about the lives of the men, women, and children who endure a second-class existence and labor under dangerous conditions as migrant workers in California's fields.

"Viramontes depicts this world with sensuous physicality...working firmly in the social-realist vein of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle."--Publishers Weekly

One of The Atlantic's...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Close to my heart

Coming from a Mexican-American family, I cried like a baby at things that may seem insignificant to most but were everything to me. The book is fairly short and some may argue that the ending was rushed and not well thought out, but I think it was just perfect. The writing is absolutely beautiful, one of my favorite quotes has to be, “What impressed her most was the way his thumbnail plowed the peel off the orange in one long spiral, as if her father plowed the sun, as if it meant something to him to peel the orange from stem to navel without breaking the circle.”

A fine piece of literature

This is a short novel, 176 pages. The stories characters, a Chicano migrant family, are very finely crafted. They are very real. Perfecto is probably the most powerfully drawn. He is probably about 73, with a wife about 40 years younger than himself and several stepchildren including thirteen year old Estrella who could be said to be the novel's main character. Estrella's father abandoned Petra, the mother and her children. Perfecto feels the urge to do just that towards the end of the book during a particularly difficult period. I'd have to say that the description of Perfecto's turmoil is probably a close second in the book to the scene where Estrella explodes in the medical clinic, where her class resentments are taken out on the poor white nurse. Now, I got the feeling through reading this book that it might have been better edited. The author just might be the greatest confector of similes in the history of humanity though I thought she might have laid them on in the book a bit too heavy. There are streches in the book where the writing is first rate, full of vigor; then other periods when it is less vigorous but still well done. But after I finished the book, I thought to myself that the book could not have been written any other way for better or for worse. In conclusion, this is a very finely crafted story of a poor migrant family, perhaps very typical, as they engage in back breacking labor for long hours at ten cents an hour under terrible working and living conditions, breathing in pesticides, enriching their bosses and giving us cheap fruit and vegetables.

Remembering My Roots

I read this book in my eleventh grade. My English teacher knew that I liked to read, especially from Latino writers so he suggested I read Under the Feet of Jesus. What a great book that is. It's written by Helena Maria Viramontes. She is so detailed in her writing. She vividly decribes sensations and experiences. This story is about a young Mexican girl named Estrella who lives her life traveling with her mom, step dad, and four other siblings. They follow the agrucultural crops. Like in many other families, if you were old enough to carry a sack of cotton you were old enough to work. Estrella and her family moved from place to place working in strawberry fields, cotton fields, etc. Viramontes describes how even though her and her siblings were American born citizens, they still got nervous of seeing the immigration officers who are always looking for those persons without papers. They don't want immigrants living here illegally. It's true what Viramontes emphasizes, they have prejudice feelings toward immigrants who do nothing but work hard to make a better living for themselves. Immigrants are the ones who pick the vegetables they eat at dinner. They despise them. That's not fair because Mexican immigrants, as well as other immigrants, are the ones who make this nation grow. Viramontes describes Estrella's feelings toward her family, her life,this nation's hardships and the experience of her first love. I learned through this novel that this is what my father went through when he first came to this country. He still tells me what it was like to come as a stranger to this country carrying nothing but the clothes on his back and a couple of dollars in his pocket. Although he is now an American made citizen, he never forgets where he came from and what he had to go through to get where he is now. That is what he wants to teach his kids. To never forget where we come from and our Mexican roots. I will forever be grateful for his sacrifices, and my mother's, to have offered my siblings and I a better life and future for us. I recommend this book to everyone, whether you're Mexican or not.

Having the heart in the right place is half the battle

In this great novel, Viramontes portrays the migrant experience in a very real and touching way. It shows that the love for the land, the love for oneself is as important as anything else, but mostly more important than the titles, visas, passports that keep putting obstacles in people's ways. Having a life following the work on the fields is not only hard and unrewarding, but if looked upon the way of a person in touch with themselves it becomes more important than ownership of land, being born on the right side of the line, or more important than all of it. Looking forward to her next novel.

Despair and Hope

This was a beautiful, strong, yet delicately-written story. It took me through all the emotions from despair to anger to fear to joy and finally to hope. Ms. Viramontes is able to describe horrendous poverty and incredible beauty all in the same sentence, with an effect that leaves you breathless. It should be required reading for all young adults and teens. Beautiful.

Review of "Under the Feet of Jesus"

Agonizingly touching and as painfully fragile as life on the migrant-farming circuit can be, "Under the Feet of Jesus" is a novela that is as much a part of America as Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." The wording of this book is so delicate that it could almost be mistaken for an extended poem if it were not for the strength of characters like Estrella and her mother Petra and the dialogue that goes spoken and unspoken between them. From Petra and the harsh agricultural world around her, Estrella learns the difference between love without security and security without love; when Estrella makes her final choice, it is with the wealth of experiences of her own family. Viramontes' book echoes not only great American writers of the past like Steinbeck, but classic Latin American literature like the "Popul Vuh" of the Mayas. The odd mixture of both cultures is smoothed over by the heavy sybolism of the cycles of the earth, and the humanity of the people who inhabit it.
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