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​Common Reading 2019-2020: Under the Feet of Jesus

A research guide for the 2019/2020 Common Reading Selection, Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena María Viramontes

About the Book

Book Cover: Under the Feet of Jesus

The novel Under the Feet of Jesus was published in 1995. 

"At the center of this powerful tale is Estrella, a girl about to cross over the perilous border to womanhood. What she knows of life comes from her mother, who has survived abandonment by her husband in a land that treats her as if she were invisible, even though she and her children pick the crops of the farms that feed its people...from the aging but iron-bodied man who reluctantly becomes the head of the family, even as dreams of his youth in Mexico are calling him home...and from the endless highways and vast fields of California, where they travel and work together. But within Estrella, seeds of growth and change are stirring. And in the arms of Alejo, only a few years older than herself, they burst into full fierce flower, as she tastes the joy and pain of first love. Estrella begins to listen to her own inner voice in giving herself to that love. She comes to learn the value of life and discovers her own power to defy a system that would otherwise keep her down. Pushed to the margins of society, she learns to fight back and is able to help the young farmworker she loves when his ambitions and very life are threatened in a harvest of death."

"Infused with the beauty of the California landscape and shifting splendors of the passing seasons juxtaposed with the bleakness of poverty, this vividly imagined novel, so observant and full of wisdom, is worthy of the people it celebrates and whose story it tells so magnificently. The simple lyrical beauty of Viramontes's prose, her haunting use of image and metaphor, and the urgency of her themes all announce Under the Feet of Jesus as a landmark work of American fiction."--BOOK JACKET

Helena María Viramontes

Photo of author, Helena María Viramontes, ©2019 Cornell UniversityHelena María Viramontes is a Professor of English at Cornell University.

Photograph ©2019 Cornell University

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