Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review by Shellie: The Cost of Dreams by Gary Stelzer


Basic Set Up Info:

The Cost of Dreams is a complex story where the main character, Flora Enriques, is originally from Barrancas del Cobre – the copper mountains just south of the Mexican border in the Chihuahuan state. Of Native American Indian descent, from what I believe is a tribe called the Tarahumara, this young woman escapes her humble and horrific circumstances within these mountains and canyons. Barely leaving with her life and with her siblings, and running from bands of illicit gunmen and overlords, she crosses over the border to the United States.

Fate has more in store for her, when she is shot and left for dead by a drug dealing thug and her brother in law. That is only the beginning of her incredible and harrowing story, which becomes even more complex as a parallel character, an American female biologist, saves her life as they embark on a journey of emotional and physical healing with some very dramatic events.

My Thoughts:

The Cost of Dreams is a layered and compelling story and one which I believe is the author’s first book. He calls himself an “amateur story teller” and brings to light some of the travails of what  he terms calls “the struggle of the downtrodden.” He has created an amazing story line which is harrowing, gritty, and mostly a page turner. Gary Stelzer is also a physician and brings that knowledge into the story, making it interesting and complex. I enjoy medical images and terms within a novel and the author of course does a fabulous job.

My only grumbles are that at times I found myself a bit lost as new settings were introduced, or change back and forth, and there are complex events in the book. Additionally, I noted some extremely complex sentences – one sentence was an incredible five lines long. These elements slightly effected the page turning ability of the story. I would say that is is however a compelling and important read.

I really enjoyed this book because of its cultural significance. I have a particular fondness and sympathy for our Mexican and South American Neighbors. They have a complex and wonderful culture with sometimes difficult circumstances. If you enjoy these elements as well as convoluted story lines, and those which revolve around the border States of the US and Mexico, it is highly recommended. I do want to warn readers that there is some intense and graphic violence which may effect some. In the end I give this novel 3.5 stars. If not for the sticky bits my rating would have been higher. I am looking forward to the next novels in this series.

Beyond the Review: 

Below are several links about the Tarahumara people and the Barrancas del Cobre (Canyons of Copper) area, which I thought very interesting. Apparently the area is ruggedly beautiful and very similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States only larger and more complex. Meaning it is several canyons linked together forming a complex network. Here is an overview about the area and the people, and here is what Fodors says about the natives in one of their online travel guides. Additionally Utne Reader has an interesting and pertinent article called A Day in the life of a Border Patrol Officer.

For more information on The Cost of Dreams, the author Gary Stelzer, as well as purchasing information link to Layers of Thought’s preview for the novel.

Disclaimer - my knowledge of the Barracas del Cobre and its people are limited to this book and my Google searches which I have linked here, and may contain errors. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.


Charlie said...

You spend a lot of time on your reviews, Shellie, what with extra links and background info—it's much appreciated.

While this book sounds appealing, I'm not sure I'm ready right now for anything too complex—right now I'm reading short-sized short stories.

I'll keep this one in mind, though.

Unknown said...

Thanks Charlie -
Yes - I am picky about them. Perhaps more than needed.

I also like doing research about what I read - especially if it interests me which this did. I love Mexico.

I'm reading short stories as well for the Once Upon a Time challenge its nice.

This book has gotten little interest in the blogosphere sadly.

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