When I was contacted to review Silvio Sirias’s book Bernardo & the Virgin, I practically jumped for joy. I loved Meet Me Under the Ceiba, his most recently published book and it is one of my most successful blog posts to this day. We had some really great conversations going in those comments and today I hope we repeat that and again on Friday, when we do something exciting!
Bernard & the Virgin is a sweeping tale about the a real event that happened in the 80s, during the revolution in Nicaragua. A devout man in the small town of Cuapa is visited by the Virgin Mary. She asks him to lead his people by telling them to pray the rosary and continue to stay true to what they know from the church. Reactions to the visions come from all over the country and the story of an unknown campesino becomes intertwined with the history of Nicaragua.
The novel is divided into short chapters that feature a different character and their experiences with la Virgen de Cuapa. Each character is connected to Bernardo somehow and the intricacies of this small town were beautifull crafted. Stories are told and retold through different perspectives and the story covers more than fifty years in the history of Nicaragua and Cuapa. The history of the Virgin Mary and the Americas is very important. It is well known that most Central and South American countries are very devout Catholics, but beyond that is la Virgen. The Virgin Mary has a special place in latino culture; she is the connector between God and human, she is the link that speaks to God on behalf of humankind. This is something that I understand. I grew up Catholic and Methodist, though I’m now neither of these things and have no specific beliefs, and for the Catholic side of my family, it was very much about speaking to the Virgin Mary. She was the one you prayed to when you needed something because she understood. We said Hail Marys much more often than we ever said Our Fathers.
At the beginning of the book is the inscription, ” This work of fiction is based on actual events – in the eyes of many.” For so many the apparitions of the virgin are real events and this book does a wonderful job of exploring all sorts of people, from those who believe unconditionally in the visions to those who question them. I also loved the inscription in the painting on the front of the book, ” Dios encontrara una boca que te diga lo que necesitas oir.” God will find a mouth to tell you what you need to hear. That sums up so well what this novel is doing and how I feel about visions like this. I don’t know if it is god in any sense as we understand the word, but the most important thing was that these people were touched and affected by what Bernardo saw. Their lives were made better for it and that is what’s important.
I’m sure some people will be wondering if this is a Christian novel and I think that it could be read that way, but it is much more than that and shouldn’t be defined by that. It is a story of the history of Nicaragua and how religion was intertwined in that history. It is a story of a humble man and the people he becomes connected with. I really cannot recommend this novel enough, it’s beautiful, well-written and a delight to read.
So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR
Some exciting news! I have an nontraditional giveaway for you today. We have changepurses to giveaway. They were made by Kuna artists in Panama, called Molas. You learn more about them here. All you have to do is ask Silvio a question in the comments and you will be entered in the giveaway.
Other exciting news! Would you like to chat with Silvio Sirias about his book? There will be a LIVE CHAT on Friday, June 11th from 7-8pm. If you ask a question in the comments then I will forward them to Condor Book Tours so they can be asked during the live chat. There will also be the opportunity to participate live. I’m really excited about this so I hope you will consider stopping by!
Would you like to buy a copy of Bernardo & the Virgin? Support indie book stores and buy here:
Thanks to Condor Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book! Here are the other stops on the tour: Latino Book Examiner, When I Was in ‘Nam, Sandra’s Book Club, Sententia Vera, The Tranquilo Traveler, Brown Girl Speaks, The Book Nook, Pisti-Totol Black Bird, La Bloga.