Of Dreams & Thorns, a novel — Chicago, 1950. Ramiro sets foot for the first time in the city of his destination. But his misshaped American dream didn’t include such a freezing welcome, or being relegated to deaf mute status. His joy at connecting with his friend and finding a job soon turns to anxiety and tension develops when he desperately misses the beloved family he left behind. Things get heated when he is seduced by his much older landlady, adding shame and guilt to the mix of his emotions. When his new American buddy, Tommy, suffers a devastating accident at the rail yard, it becomes the last straw and compels Ramiro to seek his fortunes elsewhere. California sounds much more his style.
Orange Cove, California. Ramiro and a buddy set off in an old jalopy and reach California in time for the spring pruning of every fruit tree imaginable. His cousins welcome them, and soon he is alive with new hope and excitement about saving enough money to buy a little farm of his own, back home in Naranjales. The work is hard, but he takes to it easily, having been his family’s majordomo in their former prosperity a few years back. Ramiro becomes a favorite of the supervisor, and that, combined with his work ethic, brightens his future.
Naranjales, NL, Mexico. Ramiro’s first visit home is marked by high emotions and rounds of visits with old friends and relatives. His mother, Doña Lupita, plans an elaborate Christmas feast. His beloved Eliza and the four kids are on cloud nine having their husband and daddy home again.
Houston, 1956. Ramiro and Eliza’s dreams shatter after briefly filling their hands. After his brother’s shooting, Ramiro decides that only far from Naranjales can the family find peace and a possible future. The clan, now numbering six kids and a seventh soon to be conceived, arrives in Houston where the best and worst interpersonal dynamics and culture clash challenge the family in ways Ramiro never imagined.
Based on the author’s real-life immigrant relatives, neighbors, and friends, the stories contained in “Of Dreams & Thorns” breathe life and three dimensionality to the lives of people who live all around us but we too often render inaudible and/or transparent. J.C. Salazar’s novel will captivate you, even as you find the stories wrenching, riveting, and ultimately uplifting.