December 9, 2013

REVIEW: COVERING THE SUN WITH MY HAND by Theresa Varela

   



“Somehow I had managed to allow myself to be open to the wonders of life. I’d continue to work through whatever regrets and doubts about myself.  But learning to live with my choices, in love, not fear, would be my guideposts. … I closed my eyes and let the heat of the sun envelop me.”   ---Julia




Powerful. Emotional. Uplifting.

Theresa Varela makes an exciting debut with COVERING THE SUN WITH MY HAND.  The prose is rich and evocative.  The characters so realistic you’d recognize them as you walk up the stairs to your apartment.  This is a novel about family, love, duty.  It’s about mothers and daughters; about growing up, about finding yourself, about making difficult choices, about life. 

I love the symbolism of the title – covering the sun with your hand.  It cannot be done, just like one cannot hide from the truth.  No matter how big your hand or how long you hold it up, the sun will shine around it and through it, so does truth, so does life, which is what our heroine has to learn for herself. 

BOOK SUMMARY:   It’s 1979 and Julia Acevedo is plotting her escape to college away from her family and the traditional roles of Latina women.  She is ‘every woman’ at that age, longing to break tradition, to become liberated, even if she doesn’t really know what that means.  But life and family get in the way. 

As the oldest and only daughter, Julia helps her mother take care of the home, watch over her twin brother Rene and her father, who spends more time at the social club than at home. Always good with numbers, Julia applies to college in accounting. All seems well, but slowly her life begins to unravel.  Her mother gets sick; her father starts drinking more; and her brother is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Julia is barely hanging on at home or at school.  The first thing to go is her budding romance with a young photographer named Victor.  It takes a while but the family falls into a routine with Julia shouldering most of the responsibilities. She finds a job as an accountant.  Unfortunately, an affair with her married boss is doomed from the beginning, and Julia soon is alone facing one of the hardest decisions of her life. 

Her life in a downward spiral, she seeks help from the neighborhood Santera.  But neither prayer nor Santerismo can help Julia until she faces the truth about her family situation.  Her father dies, her mother gets cancer and her brother gets worse, so much so that Julia is on a first-name basis with the nurses and doctors at the Emergency Rooms, the social workers and the local police.

The truth is scary to face, much less to accept and to act upon.  With both parents gone, Julia knows that she will always be her brother’s keeper, but she has to learn to let him go, to help him and help herself.   It takes a very close call for Julia to at last break with her duty, her guilt and make new lives for her brother and herself.  Finally, Julia is able to look into the sun and feel its warmth and the promise of a new life with the love she thought she lost but found anew.###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Theresa Varela holds a doctorate in Nursing Research and Theory Development from New York University, and is the author of scholarly articles on the impact of culture and spirituality on urban health. She works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and incorporates her in-depth knowledge of mental health into magical realist writings. Her profound connection to the spiritual world and knowledge of Spiritism and Santeria is interwoven into her offerings of poetry and prose. COVERING THE SUN WITH MY HAND is her first novel.  To learn more about Theresa visit her at   http://theresavarela.com.

For information about her publisher, Aignos Publishing, please visit http://aignospublishing.blogspot.com/