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On Aug 18 1929 Juan Salvador Villasenor married Lupe Gomez in a church in Santa Ana Calif Each came from a family that had fled the horrors of the Mexican Revolution The life their families led before that cataclysm and their eventual settlement in the United States is one of survival and wonder Now their son Victor Villasenor has written Rain of Gold a grand and vivid history of both clans in an ambitious narrative that draws on the utter terror of those years and the intuitive wisdom of his people as they adapted to their new country An Irish priest who loves bootleg booze performs the joyful wedding which is attended by a Jewish tailor an Indian sheriff who protects bootleggers and of course both families including the grooms God-fearing mother who often sits in the outhouse in blasphemous conversation with the Virgin Mary the Bible open on her lap a cigarette hanging from her lips and a glass of whiskey in her left hand The immigrant experience has always been integral to the American adventure What makes the Mexican ordeal different is that they arrived by foot rather than by airplane or in steerage The Villasenor and Gomez families came in the first wave of mass migration from Mexico in the early 20th century Victor Villasenor had been hearing stories from his familys older generations about the arduous journey descriptions of cruelty and hardship that strained credulity and obsessed him with the desire to squeeze every memory from his elders and then visit the Mexican settlements where they grew up Mr Villasenor author of two previous books alternates between the two families focusing on the volatile Juan Salvador and the thoughtful Lupe eventually the book becomes their love story His dialogue is convincing and the pace seldom falters What Rain of Gold shows best however is how the Porfirio Diaz regime and the revolution it provoked in
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