Ashes of Izalco-bookr report

Satisfactory Essays

By Claribal Alegria and Darwin J. Flakoll

I found the beginning of this book quite confusing. I had a difficult time discerning who the main characters were and what was the plot. I also wasn’t quite sure when the Mother had died and it wasn’t until later that I realized the reason that Carmen was present was because she had traveled home for her mother’s funeral. However, once I got into the book and started to put the characters in context, I really began to enjoy it.
This book has very sad overtones. It is concerned with the human struggle for happiness in life, or maybe just contentment. Just about every main character, present and past, seems to be involved in some inner turmoil. Carmen is struggling with her own identity and her unhappiness in her marriage to Paul. She feels she plays a role of dutiful wife as she was brought up to be, but that the marriage really has no strong foundation and she and her husband have nothing in common. Possibly a repetition of her parents’ marriage? She admits to being convinced by her husband to have an abortion. This must have been very traumatic to reconcile with her Catholic upbringing as she refers to it as “a crime”. She is searching throughout the narrative for answers to her questions. What has become of her? What should she do about her marriage? Her father? And one of the most pressing questions is her struggle to understand why her has mother left the diary to her?
There are no clear answers for Carmen. As she searches for answers she is also experiencing the very early stages of the grieving process. She is angry. She doesn’t like at all that her mother has altered her view of her as a parent. Don’t we all think that our parents never make mistakes or have questions in their own lives? If Isabel had left the marriage when she was a child, Carmen would have been forced to deal with the issue of an imperfect world with imperfect people. As she travels through some very poignant reminiscences, she admits to her own self-absorption as a child. As an adult, she reflects on now seeing her parents more clearly as individuals. I, too, have personally had this experience in seeing parents differently from the adult perspective.
Carmen appears to be wearing a mask in her own relationship that shows a repetition of her mother’s life.
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