Shame The Stars
Mature YA/adult historical fiction
"My father shook his head and said, 'There are no clear lines
anymore, no boundaries, Joaquin. Evil has rooted itself into our
lands, dug itself deep into the souls of mejicanos on both sides of
the border. While most are out for blood, some just want food or the
money to buy it, and a well-maintained herd of cattle is both of those
One evening Guadelupe Garcia McCall's older son showed her a
book, Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody
Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans. It had to do with a
bloody part of that state's history. Mexican Texans were losing farms
and ranches to whites. Attempts to protect themselves or even the
"crime" of being dark skinned was met with cruel vigilante justice
meted out by the Texas Rangers.
"...The insurgence and its punishment became a vicious cycle
that was too horrific to be spoken of, much less documented. Many of
the crimes committed against tejanos and Mexicans in South Texas went
unreported. Most have been forgotten."
McCall kept reading the book, studying the pictures. She felt
sorrow for the innocent victims, many young men like her sons, who
were killed for their skin color at a time Rangers could get away with
it. She was bothered by the fact that this tragic period in American
history is still being left out of school textbooks. She wrote Shame
the Stars to give the forgotten victims a voice in today's world.
Joaquin, a rancher's younger son (his older brother, Tomas, is a
priest) is about to be sent off to Michigan for his college
education. He suspects that his father wants to separate him from his
beloved Dulcena. (Two years earlier his father had kicked Dulcena's
parents off his property, angered by the dangerous content of his
newspaper.) He feels that it would be wrong to abandon her at such a
turbulent and dangerous time.
Now Joaquin no longer sees Dulcena at school. She is being
tutored at home. Her father wants to keep her safe. The Texas
Rangers and the low lives they deputize are killing suspects without a
court trial. Her father speaks up for the victims through his
newspaper. He gets daily death threats.
Joaquin and Dulcena communicate via secret notes delivered by
friends. (Both families are standing in the way of their
relationship.) When she invites him to a friend's masked ball
quincenera he envisages a few sneaked dances with his beloved.
What Joaquin does not expect is for Dulcena to instruct him to
meet him at midnight at their secret place. The rendevous is as
disastrous as he had feared it would be. On their way back to the
party they are accosted by two sheriff's deputies. One of them,
Slater, attempts to rape Dulcena.
When Jaoquin's father tries to report the incident to Captain
Munro, a Texas Ranger, nothing is done to punish the guilty parties.
In fact the next morning on an errand Jaoquin encounters Slater
talking trash about Dulcena.
You know as well as I do things won't end there. Joaquin is
determined to protect Dulcena against those to whom they are
acceptable collateral damage.
This book is for adult readers and mature YAs. Some scenes are
too graphic for sixth graders. The characters really come alive.
(Joaquin is so much like my own son while his mother is a tejano
version of the person I work toward being). Reading it is intense.
It took me two nights and both times I needed a beer to fall asleep.
On a personal note, are the Texas Rangers all that different from
today's police who go unpunished for killing unarmed blacks? Is the
prejuduce against and treatment of Muslims and immigrants today any
less reprehensible than the brutality displayed then toward tejanos?
A great big shout out goes out to all who are brave on the side of
victims of prejudice.
Sent from my iPod