From American Book Award-winning author Ana Castillo comes a suspenseful, moving novel about a sensuous, smart, and fiercely independent woman. Eking out a living as a teacher’s aide in a small New Mexican border town, Tía Regina is also raising her teenage nephew, Gabo, a hardworking boy who has entered the country illegally and aspires to the priesthood. When Gabo’s father, Rafa, disappears while crossing over from Mexico, Regina fears the worst.
After several days of waiting and with an ominous phone call from a woman who may be connected to a smuggling ring, Regina and Gabo resolve to find Rafa. Help arrives in the form of Miguel, an amorous, recently divorced history teacher; Miguel’s gregarious abuelo Milton; a couple of Gabo’s gangbanger classmates; and a priest of wayward faith. Though their journey is rife with challenges and danger, it will serve as a remarkable testament to family bonds, cultural pride, and the human experience
Praise for The Guardians
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“An always skilled storyteller, [Castillo] grounds her writing in . . . humor, love, suspense and heartache–that draw the reader in.”
–Chicago Sunday Sun-Times
“A rollicking read, with jokes and suspense and joy rides and hearts breaking . . . This smart, passionate novel deserves a wide audience.”
–Los Angeles Times
“What drives the novel is its chorus of characters, all, in their own way, witnesses and guardian angels. In the end, Castillo’s unmistakable voice–earthy, impassioned, weaving a ‘hybrid vocabulary for a hybrid people’–is the book’s greatest revelation.”
–Time Out New York
“A wonderful novel . . . Castillo’s most important accomplishment in The Guardians is to give a unique literary voice to questions about what makes up a ‘family.’ ”
–El Paso Times
“A moving book that is both intimate and epic in its narrative.”
–Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
About Ana Castillo
Ana Castillo is the author of the novels The Guardians, Peel My Love Like an Onioin, So Far from God, The Mixquiahuala Letters, and Sapogonia. She has written a story collection, Loverboys; the crtitical study Massacre of the Dreamers; the poetry collection My Father Was a Toltec and Selected Poems; and the children's book My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle, The Dove. She is the editor of the anthology Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the Virgin of Guadalupe, available from Vintage Espanol (La diosa de las Americas). Castillo has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Book Award, a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Chicago with her son, Marcel.
1. Why do you think the author chooses to tell the story using different points of view? What makes each narrator distinct?
2. Regina calls Miguel her archangel and even sometimes “her guardian angel” (pg. 51). Do you think the title refers to him? What else could it mean?
3. Regina says that her biggest fear is that Gabo will want to be a priest, and that, when Rafa hears about it, “he’ll be so disappointed” (pg. 7). Why do you think she says that? What kind of a life do you think she envisions for Gabo?
4. Gabo tries not to take pleasure in anything, even something as simple as enjoying the fresh produce from his aunt’s garden. Do you think his motivation extends beyond religion? Is Gabo always saintly, or do you see any other sides of him in the novel?
5. The Los Angeles Times called The Guardians “a rollicking read, with jokes and suspense and joy rides and hearts breaking.” What are some examples of humor in the novel?
6. Regina unexpectedly ﬁnds a romantic connection with Miguel. Why do you think it took her so long after losing her husband to enter another romantic relationship? How do you think her ﬁrst relationship shaped her interactions with Miguel?
7. How does Jesse serve as Gabo’s foil? How are the two boys most alike?
8. When Regina thinks about her own days as an undocumented farm worker, she says: “That’s all every immigrant in the world wants, to get her papers in order. To ofﬁcially become a person” (pg. 116). How is this quote important to the novel? How do you think this mentality has affected Regina?
9. Regina and Rafa come from the same family, yet their fates are very different. Why is Regina more conventionally successful in America than Rafa is? How, if at all, do they epitomize the immigrant experience?
10. Abuelo Milton becomes a hero several times in the novel, snatching Gabo from the clutches of danger. Why do you think he chooses to become so involved in Gabo’s and Regina’s troubles?
11. Towards the end of the novel, Miguel quotes the nineteenth-century Mexican president, Porﬁrio Diaz, saying: “Poor México, so far from God, so close to the United States” (pg. 151). Why do you think he uses this quote? How are the two countries represented in the novel?
12. What do you envision for Gabriela’s future?