Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Banned book: Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Summary on GoodReads.

Did you know that Bless me, Ultima is in the ALA list of banned books for 2008?

Yeap. First published in 1972 the book has been banned from been used in schools because, as I recall, Anaya uses magic, profanity, violence and some sexual content in the story. Seriously? How many YA today aren’t like that?

If you read the book you’ll discover that such “excuse” is only that, an excuse. The story is mixed with fervent religious believes, Catholicism, Christianity, Native American myths and folklore. Aren’t there hundred of books like that already?

Then, why is Bless me, Ultima banned? I think that the real reason lies in the conversation between Tony and a friend on page 202:

Is it a bad sign to do this?” He threw a finger.
“Yes,” I answered.
“It’s a bad sign –“
“But nothing happens when I throw it.” He did it again.
“You’ll be punished—“
“When you die,” I said.
“What if I go to confession?”
“Then your sins are forgiven, your soul is clean and you are saved –“
“You mean I can go out and sin, do bad things, throw fingers, say bad words, look through the peep-hole into the girls bathroom, so a million things and then when I’m about to die I just go to confession and make communion, and I go to heaven?”
“Yes,” I said. “If you are sorry that you sinned—“
“Ohhhhhhh,” he laughed, “I’ll be sorry! Chingada I will! I can be the worst cabron in the world, and when I’m ninety-ne I can be sorry for being such a culo, and I go to heaven – You know, it doesn’t seem fair—“

Isn’t this like totally against what the Catholic church would want students thinking about?

Tony is a kid preparing to do his first communion. His religious mother even encourages him to become a priest. But then a series of murders have Tony thinking about the injustice of it all and asks himself where is God when you need Him and why He allows bad things to happen.

At the same time, he becomes attached to Ultima, a curandera (shaman) who came to live with the family and became Tony’s kind of spiritual guide. At the end, Tony comes to a decision that surprises… well, I guess the church.


  1. Sounds like a very interesting book to read. Thanks for the review, and thanks once again for linking up in Exposure 99% weekday blog hop, I look forward being part of your blog

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