Heart of Aztlán is the second novel in a trilogy begun with Bless Me, Ultima and concluded with Tortuga. Each of the novels involves a seer, a spiritual guide to help the characters deal with the problems they face and to help structure the spiritual wholeness, peace, and harmony that bring them understanding of their identity and purpose. In Heart of Aztlán, this spiritual guide is Crispin, a blind poet who enters the life of the Chavez family as they encounter the hostile environment of the Albuquerque barrio.
The story takes place in 1950, when the family moves from the small rural community of Guadalupe to the barrio of the big city. There they encounter many problems, and each faces these differently. The family’s eldest son manages to find work, but the youngest son becomes a drug addict and is eventually killed. The middle son, like his father, reveres the land they have left and cannot make the adjustment to new surroundings. Because his father becomes an alcoholic, the middle son must take over the leadership of the family. The women, who are portrayed stereotypically, face equal hardships. Two daughters become prostitutes, and the mother must take orders from her middle son. This is the family situation when Crispin enters.
Crispin’s arrival brings changes, especially to the father, Clemente, who has not been able to cope with the technology, religion, or capitalism of the city. Crispin helps...
(The entire section is 429 words.)