A Soda Springs review:
It offers hope for acceptance and tolerance

by Patricia Gonzales Sacoman

I’m not a book “critic.” I read a lot -- best sellers, beach books, junk, fiction, nonfiction, etc. and I don't always agree with what the "critics" say. If a book evokes something in me -- good or bad – either I like or don't.

I must say that after the first chapter of Soda Springs, I didn’t think I was going to like it -- not after that liaison between Rick and his friend’s mother. But I kept reading. Once I got going, I became engrossed.

I grew up in the place Marshall calls the “Sangre de Cristo Valley.” I could relate to the setting – the real towns, Alamosa and Monte Vista; the Sky Hi stampede; picking lettuce and raising potatoes, etc. He captures them well.

He also shows us the discrimination we experienced growing up there. I think all Hispanics felt the sting of prejudice at one time or another -- some more than others, but it was always there; maybe not blatant, but under the surface. In high school, I think I knew my place and didn't rock the boat and probably had my head buried in the sand, but I knew it existed.

After college, I didn’t get two teaching jobs I applied for, and I’m pretty sure it was because I’m Hispanic. I ended up leaving Colorado . . . and the good news is, things worked out well for me in the end.

On another note, Marshall has the language down pat in Soda Springs: the idioms, the dichos, the expressions. I’m impressed. Pretty good for a "gringo"!

I know the book is called “Love, Sex, and Civil Rights,” and that sex sells. Poor Rick, his hormones are raging and he "lusts" after 3 women -- loves all of them. As I thought about it, though, that was normal for that time period -- all time periods, I guess. Still, this may just be part of my Catholic upbringing, but I think the sex could have been more subtle and not so explicit.

Interestingly enough, though, by the time I got to the end, all that seemed a minor problem.

What I especially like about Soda Springs is that of all the women, Rick chooses Concha in the end. It gives hope that discrimination can be overcome, that there is hope for assimilation and integration of the cultures, for acceptance and tolerance -- despite family tensions that will have to be overcome.

All in all, I liked this book. Let me know when your next one comes out; I promise to buy it and read it.

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