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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 677

So Far from God is a tragicomedy that details the adventures and misadventures of Sofi and her four daughters, Esperanza, Caridad, Fe, and La Loca (Hope, Charity, Faith, and the Crazy One), all of whom possess unusual traits. Set in a small desert town in New Mexico, the novel relates the rather strange occurrences in the life of Sofi, a fiercely independent and strong-willed woman who works hard to raise her daughters and continues to care for them when they return home suffering from the effects of ill-starred love affairs.

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The three oldest sisters follow society’s expectations by initially pursuing romantic love and marriage. In the case of Esperanza, her lover, Ruben (who renamed himself Cuauhtemoc during his chicano activist days), leaves her to marry a wealthy Anglo woman. After she accepts a job as a television reporter in Washington, D.C., she is sent to cover the Persian Gulf War; she is kidnapped and disappears for some time. The family finds out that she has been killed when the well-known figure of Mexican legend, La Llorona (“the Weeping Woman”), appears to La Loca to tell her that Esperanza is dead. The family receives the official news later.

Caridad, the second daughter, a hospital orderly, marries her high school boyfriend, Memo, after she becomes pregnant. Memo goes back to his former girlfriend, however, and Caridad has an abortion that is performed by her youngest sister, La Loca (who subsequently repeats the procedure) without their mother’s knowledge. Her loving nature moves her to seek substitutes for Memo until she is bodily attacked by an evil force, a beast of legend, that almost kills her. Her mother and sisters nurse her back to life, and La Loca’s powerful prayers (in something akin to a miracle) return her mutilated body to its former beauty. During her apprenticeship as a curandera, she joins the traditional Catholic pilgrimage to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where she unexpectedly remains and lives as a hermit in a cave for a year. Ultimately, obsessed by a woman with whom she falls in love, Caridad dies (disappears) as she leaps off a high desert plateau with this woman.

Fe, the third daughter, has an equally strange life and also dies at a young age from cancer. Her death is the result of the chemicals she is required to use as a factory worker in a plant that subcontracts work from a Pentagon weapons contractor.

The fourth daughter, La Loca, behaves in a peculiar fashion (after her supposed death and resurrection at age three), becoming averse to human smell and the physical closeness of anyone except her mother, possessed of a special affinity to animals, a child who becomes a woman without ever leaving the confines of the area surrounding her house. In a different place, she might have been called autistic—a psychological word stripped of the mythical connotations and spiritual gifts attributed to La Loca.

While still a young woman, La Loca mysteriously contracts AIDS and dies. One by one, the other sisters die or disappear in bizarre circumstances. Nevertheless, Sofía faces her many misfortunes with strength, determination, patience, and the wisdom implied in her name. Her husband plays only a peripheral and insignificant role in her life, a background prop. In the final chapter, her daughters’ untimely deaths lead Sofi to found the “prestigious” organization M.O.M.A.S. (Mothers of Martyrs and Saints), where she remains as president and a tower of strength for thirty-eight years.

Throughout the novel, the narrator immerses the reader in a tapestry of folklore, culture, legends, New Mexican recipes, and home remedies used by curanderas . These seemingly disparate threads are all carefully woven into the fanciful tale that runs in many directions and is full of unexpected happenings. The author also uses the...

(The entire section contains 2866 words.)

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