The House of Broken Angels


UnknownSometimes I really struggle with a book, and yet I persist, for whatever reason- in this case, because the reviews were so consistently positive. And sometimes, I’m rewarded with something beautiful, something that puts everything that I struggled with before in context, and my feelings do a 180º, and I love the book. This happened on page 252. I don’t care how long it takes to get there, as long as I get there.

There were several things that I struggled with, primarily, the male voice of the protagonist. I know that was not the author’s problem, but mine, because his characterization seemed to be consistent with what I know of male Latino values. Next, there were the Spanish words, most of which I could ignore, getting the meaning from context, but being somewhat OCD when it comes to words, I just had to keep looking up the translations. Again, my problem, not the author’s. The third barrier to me really connecting with the book was the slang, or gang-speak, or, I don’t know what to call it. I literally dropped the book at page 73, thinking, “How is a sixty something white woman supposed to understand WTF this means?” Here is the passage: “His ‘stache drooped a little, and the soul patch under his lower lip looked bandido as hell.” (I know that’s tame, but I gave up on the more arcane ones that followed.)

This is a family saga, condensed. The patriarch is ailing, and his daughter has planned a 70th birthday party to celebrate his life, but his mother dies a week before, so the two events are scheduled back to back to accommodate out of town guests. The family has its array of characters: the prodigal son, the dutiful daughter, the son escaping his family to breathe and find himself, jealous in-laws, and on and on. But the patriarch is larger than life, and at first, I didn’t see that, but when I did I was totally won over.

When the ending of a book can bring the almost physical sensation of my heart filling up in my chest, I have to acknowledge that this was a very good book.

THE BEAUTY: “…when I’m gone and you see a hummingbird, say hello. That wil be me.”

Bumblebee hummingbird, found in Mexico. Image from The Internet IBC Bird Collection.

Hummingbirds are important to me. When I see one at our feeder, it makes my day. I don’t know why. I’ll probably never see this one in the wild, but I love this picture. I wonder which one Big Angel pictured when he made the comment above?


The family was crazy about pancakes. No hidden meaning. Just crazy about pancakes. They were, indeed, fluffy.

Fluffy Pancakes

¾ C milk
2 T white vinegar
1 C all-purpose flour
2 T white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
cooking spray

Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

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