Alberto abandoned his wife and young children for an American woman. Years later, he lay dying in a hospital across the border - alone. His son, Hector is a pastor for a small Mexican church. Refusing to abandon hope, Hector continues to plead with his father to atone for his sins while there is still time. Yet, Alberto time and again frustrates his son by stubbornly refusing to accept God's saving power.
Meanwhile, his wife, Virginia, is living in a state of poverty - by choice. Serving as a missionary in the remote village of San Juan Chamula, she is teaching the native women to read with her Bible serving as their only textbook. However, superstition and fear of the modern world still run rampant among those wishing to cling to the lifestyle of their Mayan ancestors. When Virginia utters verse 37 from the Book of Romans, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" - she unknowingly announces herself as the enemy. The villagers view the word conqueror as a veiled threat. From that moment on, Virginia is no longer safe.
There are several subplots running through the story that bear mentioning. An American named Marty comes to stay with Hector's family. He is a recent bible college graduate unsure of what to do with his life. Instead of Hector providing guidance, it is his virginal sister-in-law, Susana, who helps Marty find his way.
The unrestrained brutality of the Mexican drug culture is shockingly portrayed when a grandson contemplates killing his own grandmother for overhearing an incriminating conversation. As a country falls to the rule of the drug lords, anarchy descends even into the heart of a family. Yet, the grandmother aware of her impending fate persists in praying for the salvation of her grandson.
By putting multiple faces on the issues currently facing Mexico, Macias draws the reader into the social conditions south of the border. There is violence, poverty and squalor, but there is also hope, faith and charity. But above all, the redeeming quality of a family's unconditional love is portrayed as a universal message.
Macias' use of Spanish is a bit jarring. She uses one word immediately followed my its English translation like, "I want to have time to stop at la iglesia, the church..." or "He called out, 'Quien es? Who is it?'" Introducing a second language into the manuscript reads like a high school student's paper for an introductory Spanish class. Macias is a better writer than that, and the awkward insertion of random terms does not jive with her level of proficiency.
The story could have been told in 100 fewer pages. The action stalls at points and the mental musings of characters get repetitive. Some characters are unnecessary such as the introduction of Marty's mother and the excessive detail given to the plight of young girl who becomes a new member of Hector's church. The majority of the story takes place in Tijuana. More time devoted to San Juan Chamula would have evened out the focus.
Overall, the violence of current-day Mexico is given a human dimension with a Christian emphasis.
More Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias is available for $14.99 at Amazon.com and at KathiMacias.com.
A complimentary review copy was provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Also by Kathi Macias: No Greater Love
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